Cardinal George Pell has promised to review compensation payments for Melbourne church abuse victims and has conceded it may cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Cardinal Pell met with Anthony and Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were abused by a priest in Melbourne and told them a cap on payments would be eliminated.
He also told them during the meeting, which took place on Thursday after Cardinal Pell completed his evidence to the royal commission into child sexual abuse, the church would review all existing payments.
“I stated that we needed to see the Melbourne cap eliminated, revisiting all the existing claims and in line with civil limits,” Mr Foster told ABC TV.
“I also said to him that this will cost the Catholic Church in Melbourne several hundred million dollars.
“His response was he nodded and said ‘yes’.”
Francis Sullivan from Catholic Church Truth, Justice and Healing Council, who was at the meeting said Cardinal Pell gave a commitment that he would speak with the Archbishop of Melbourne.
Nicky Davis from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the commitment was a good first step and hopes it is not an empty promise.
“George Pell is making an honest man of himself at last,” she said in a statement.
“What has been agreed to so far is a first step, but what makes this different is it is not a vague promise or deceitful claim. We are talking about concrete action that will help hundreds of our most vulnerable.
“It is vital George Pell not offer survivors another devastating blow by betraying our hopes and going back on promises made to the Fosters.”
Ms Davis said the commitment did not remove the need for an independent body to ensure survivors receive access to justice and fair compensation.
The Fosters’ two daughters were raped by a priest at primary school.
One of them took her own life and the other was hit by a car while binge drinking and now requires 24-hour care for permanent disabilities.
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