March 2005 General Meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference
16 MARCH 2005
IRISH BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE 2005 MARCH GENERAL MEETING
Following the completion this evening of the three day March meeting of the Irish Bishops’
Conference in Maynooth, the following statement has been issued addressing:
1 Stewardship Trust.
2 Bishops’ Trócaire response to the Asian Tsunami.
3 Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs calls for amendment of new residency
arrangements for migrant families with Irish born children.
4 General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
1. Stewardship Trust – Background
The background to the funding of legal liabilities arising from compensation claims for child
sexual abuse is as follows:
It has always been the practice of Bishops to put in place public liability insurance cover
against insurable risks. Each parish maintains insurance cover against public liability risks.
Church & General Insurance Company has been the traditional Catholic diocesan insurer in
Ireland. Indeed the company was formed by the Catholic hierarchy at the beginning of the
last century. Whilst Church & General was, at one time, in Church ownership, the shareholding
of the Bishops today is nominal.
Between 1987 and 1990 most dioceses obtained separate insurance policies from Church & General
against the eventuality of legal liability accruing to a diocese from acts of child sexual
abuse by priests. The policy cover, which did not provide protection to alleged perpetrators,
was subject to strict financial limits and policy conditions.
In 1995 serious legal issues arose between the Bishops of each diocese and Church & General
regarding the entitlement of dioceses to indemnity, in respect of civil claims for damages
arising from clerical child sexual abuse, under the policies of insurance then in place.
These issues were resolved in 1996 on terms which included the payment of a single sum of
€4.3m for division among the dioceses. Rather than apportion it, the Bishops decided to
place this sum in a trust fund which they established: “The Stewardship Trust”. The Trust
is empowered to provide financial assistance to Bishops towards the cost of legal
liabilities arising from abuse claims. The Trust also funds child protection and other
victim response initiatives undertaken at national level by the Bishops’ Conference.
Each diocese is legally separate and is individually accountable in respect of any
legal liability arising from claims of this nature and is eligible to apply to the
Trust for financial assistance towards the expenditure which it incurs on such claims.
The Trustees of the Stewardship Trust are the four Archbishops of Ireland. All
applications to the Trust for financial assistance come before an independent
committee with a lay chairman.
In 1999 following further negotiations between the Bishops and Church & General regarding
the question of insurance cover, Church & General, in full and final settlement, agreed
to pay to the Bishops additional sums up to a maximum of €6.3m towards the cost of child
sexual abuse claims against dioceses.
No insurance cover exists in respect of any liabilities which accrue to dioceses in
respect of incidents of child sexual abuse which occurred prior to 1996.
Child Protection Issues
Since 1996, the Stewardship Trust has funded the following broad spectrum of child protection
costs and services:
National Child Protection Office in Maynooth €577,168
Report by the Royal College of Surgeons (2003) €228,473
Research Grant €38,000
Lynott Working Group (approximately) €242,889
The Hussey Commission €306,000
Legal advice to the Episcopal Conference €597,592
Stewardship Trust – various working groups, direct expenses etc €71,812
Audit fees €8,851
Disbursement to Dioceses €8,781,592
Claims and Review
Since the establishment of the Stewardship Trust in 1996, 143 claims against 36 priests
who had worked in dioceses in Ireland have been settled at a cost to the Stewardship Trust
of €8.78m. The claim costs in 2003 amounted to €1.9m and in 2004 were €2.9m.
Most of these cases occurred prior to 1996 and thus are not covered by any existing insurance
policy. Since the total sums agreed in 1996 and 1999 are nearing depletion, new resources
need to be provided. Accordingly, the Bishops decided that the operation of the Stewardship
Trust requires review, and this process is being undertaken by the Trustees.
This review process is being undertaken in order to achieve the objectives that Bishops
have already committed themselves to in the recently launched Lenten Reflection Towards
“We are committed to finding and offering ways by which those who have suffered abuse can
explore with competent and compassionate people the steps that might lead them towards
healing. These may involve counselling; there may well be a need for marriage counselling
or family counselling; it may be that a person’s education has been blighted by the
experience of abuse and that some kind of education provision would help to realise
his or her potential; there may be a need for financial advice or help with various
needs, for instance ways of relieving pressures, financial or otherwise, there may be
a place for a financial recognition of the pain that the person has suffered; there
may be issues that a survivor of child sexual abuse wishes to address about his or her
relationship with God or with the Church.”
Payouts and Diocesan Contributions to the Stewardship Trust
Since 1996 survivors of abuse have received €6.24m from the Stewardship Trust while the
related legal costs have amounted to an additional €2.53m.
The 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland have paid €1,420,021 in 2003 and €4,903,303
in 2004, respectively, into the Stewardship Trust.
As part of the review of the Stewardship Trust, bishops are undertaking a consultation
process in their dioceses.
2. Bishops’ Trócaire response to the Asian Tsunami
The Bishops’ Conference announced today that as of 10th March last, the national Church
collection in response to the tsunami in South East Asia on 26th December 2004 raised
a total of €20,157,400.77. A further €7,033,770.58 was received by Trócaire in general
donations bringing the total raised to €27,191,171.35. The bishops paid tribute to the
overwhelming generosity of the Mass going public and to individual parishes who worked
so hard in response to the appeal.
The funds were allocated to Trócaire, the Bishops’ overseas development agency, which
is working with other church bodies and relief and development organisations from North
America and Europe in managing its response to the disaster.
Trócaire’s plans for a three to five year long term coordinated relief effort will be
presented to the Trustees of Trócaire in June. Trócaire will open an office in Jakarta
to manage the funds being spent in the region in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. The
ongoing work will include securing people’s livelihoods, restoring education and health
care structures and building permanent housing for those affected.
The Bishops, in praising the generosity of the Irish people, also drew attention to
Trócaire’s current Lenten appeal following the awful tsunami disaster, and they request
that priests and parishioners remember the importance of the Lenten campaign in assisting
Trócaire in carrying out its ongoing vital work.
In addition to the €27.1m figure raised by Trócaire, the Diocese of Meath also sent
€1.1m directly to the disaster area.
3. Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs calls for amendment of new residency
arrangements for migrant families with Irish born children
The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA) expressed concern regarding
the ‘revised arrangements’ for migrant parents of Irish children applying for permission
to remain in the State.
We are keen to have further discussion with the Secretary General of the Department of
Justice, Equality and Law Reform to meet with ICJSA in connection with this issue. The
ICJSA calls on the Minister for Justice, Mr Michael McDowell, to amend the new residency
arrangements to ensure that basic justice is ensured for migrant families with Irish born
children who are being forced, unjustly, to sign away their right to live as a family unit.
ICJSA Chairman Bishop Raymond Field said, “In this week when Irish throughout the world
celebrate their National Apostle, we are particularly alarmed that under the recently
published arrangements for residency applications, parents are required to formally
renounce any entitlement to be reunited with a spouse or with their children currently
living outside the State.”
Bishop Field continued, “In a country whose Constitution recognises the family as the
natural primary and fundamental unit of Society, with inalienable and imprescriptible
rights, we firmly believe that the heartache, desperation and anguish, which families
suffer as a result of these procedures cannot be justified. The right to live in a
united family, constantly reaffirmed in the social teaching of the Church, finds a
deep resonance in the hearts of Irish mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, who
know too well the grief and loneliness of enforced separation.
“Many migrant families in Ireland today have already endured the trauma of enforced
separation. Our well recognised missionary and humanitarian outreach had led them to
believe that their human rights would be respected and that they would find prosperity
in this country.
“Many migrant families living here in Ireland, along with their Irish born children,
wait in fear and trepidation on the eve of the deadline: 31 March 2005, as they lodge
their residency applications. Their hope is overshadowed by the knowledge that, even
with a positive response, they will now be prohibited from being reunited with their
family members abroad.”
Bishop Field concluded, “The Irish around the world this week celebrate their unique
identity in their new homelands. There is a responsibility now on us at home to similarly
welcome the stranger – and their families – to our shores.”
Notes to Editors
* The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs is chaired by Bishop Raymond
Field, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin. It is part of the Irish Bishops’ Conference’s
Department of Social Issues and International Affairs.
* The ICJSA (formerly the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace) was established by
the Irish Bishops’ Conference in 1970, one of the many initiatives taken by the
Bishops to implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
4. General Instruction of the Roman Missal
Irish Bishops’ Conference welcomed this week’s publication, by Irish Liturgical
Publications, of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. The General Instruction
is the introductory material in the Missal, the book used at Mass, and was first
published in 1969 when the new Latin Missal was nearing publication following
the Second Vatican Council. This Missal has been used in its Irish and English
translation since 1975. A new edition of the Latin Missal was issued in 2002 and
is currently being translated into Irish and English. Its enlarged and updated
General Instruction is published now since it is an important teaching document
on the celebration of Mass.
Pope John Paul II, inaugurating the Year of the Eucharist last October, called
for “the revival in all Christian communities of the celebration of Sunday Mass…”
and specifically referred to a study of the General Instruction. The Bishops
commend its study by priests and parish liturgy groups.
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)