By now, you’re probably aware that the sexual abuse of minors by molester priests is quite possibly the biggest open secret in Catholic history. But just in case you had any doubts, here’s the latest from the Aussie press: Catholic Church Insurance, the insurance provider for the entire Australian arm of the institution and a Church-owned business in its own right, has a list of high-risk priests it refuses to cover because they’re just too likely to trigger abuse-related compensation claims.
The Catholic Church’s own insurance company says it has a list of people who it has refused to cover because of their actions. People who would have exposed the Church’s insurer to compensation claims. Today the big insurer admitted the list is used to directly reduce its liability.
That’s right. We’re talking about working priests who are able to serve in diocesan environments, even though the Church has enough information to flag them as uninsurable.
It’s not all bad news, though. Peter Rush, CEO of Catholic Church Insurance, has agreed to provide the Parliament of Victoria its list of Church staff the company refuses to cover. That will help the child abuse inquiry in the state pin down what the Catholic Church knew and when they knew it, helping to clarify the extent of the Church’s cover-up. It will also help investigators learn about past abusers who are still active in Australian parishes, which means potential victims might be saved from the anguish of abuse.
That Catholic Church Insurance is being helpful rather than obstructionist is certainly a step in the right direction, and probably more than the Church’s prior track record would have let us to expect. Still, it’s a bit disheartening to know that even when Australia’s in-house Catholic insurer considers Father So-and-So too big a liability to cover, it’s not enough to keep him out of a job and away from Catholic children.