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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church Investigation Report

Contents

J.3: Ex gratia payments

28. As dioceses and some religious institutes are registered charities, they must comply with charity law which requires the trustees to only apply the charity’s funds in furtherance of the purposes of the charity. This may affect the way a charity can make an ex gratia payment from the charity’s funds. An ex gratia payment is a payment which the trustees believe they are under a moral – but not legal – obligation to make but which they cannot justify as being in the interests of the charity.

29. Michelle Russell (on behalf of the Charity Commission) told us that, if a trust’s governing powers did not enable counselling to be paid for, she considered that an ex gratia payment could be used to fund counselling.

30. Cardinal Nichols told us that when he was Archbishop of Birmingham, the Archdiocese sought to fund new accommodation for a family whose children had been abused by a priest in their own home:

we had quite a long and difficult negotiation with the Charity Commission to say that that was a legitimate use of diocesan assets”.[1]

31. In July 2020, press articles reported that the Archdiocese of Birmingham had paid additional sums of money to two of Father John Tolkien’s victims, Mr Eamonn Flanagan and RC-A343. The Archdiocese was asked to provide further information about these payments. Archbishop Bernard Longley informed the Inquiry that the sums were paid as “additional, separate and discretionary” ex gratia payments by the Archdiocese’s trustees.[2] He explained that during and following the public hearing in the Archdiocese of Birmingham case study, he met with both victims and “offered to review the overall way the Archdiocese had responded in the past to the case, one part of which was the settlement”.[3] The Archdiocese reviewed Mr Flanagan and RC-A343’s records and reported to the trustees, who “did not consider that the settlements negotiated in 2015 were fair and reasonable settlements of the claims” and that the further ex gratia payments were “the right thing to do”.[4] Archbishop Longley stated that the Archdiocese will review “similar cases on a case by case basis if or when they arise”.[5] This proactive approach by the Archdiocese of Birmingham and Archbishop Longley to meeting with victims and survivors and to reviewing the past handling of cases shows how the Church can make genuine and meaningful redress.

References

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