Catholic Church Insurance Provider Has List of Priests Too Risky To Insure

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.

About Sara Lin Wilde

Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter - all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is working on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published.

  • ShoeUnited

    I must have laughed for a few solid minutes reading this article. Not against the abused children. But that certain clergy couldn’t get pissed on if they were on fire.

    “I’m sorry, but pissing on you would constitute a sexual favor and you’re not insured for that, Father.”

  • Houndentenor

    How much more evidence do we need that the RCC cared only for it’s own reputation and wealth and not at all for the safety of the children. This indifference isn’t only immoral and unethical; it’s criminal.

  • http://twitter.com/yjmbobllns Yojimbo Billions

    So what you’re saying is that even an insurance company realizes the moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church?

  • Artor

    I would be very interested in seeing what kind of data the Catholic Insurance has on these priests. Insurance companies don’t write off customers without some sort of paper trail to indicate why they are a bad risk, so this might be the smoking gun that sinks a lot of infamous pedophile priests. Keep your fingers crossed!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is slightly a side issue, but might be related to the RCC’s tolerance for corruption:
    The church owns the liability insurance company that insures it? Isn’t that a conflict of interest because the insurance company has to make decisions about its own boss? How high the premiums must be to charge for risks, and decisions (as in this list) about whether to cover some risks at all? Isn’t this a little like an industry owning the agency that is supposed to regulate it?

    • Kengi

      Not sure about Australia, but in the US it’s perfectly reasonable to self-insure so long as state insurance regulations are followed. the insurance company doesn’t regulate its customers, the state insurance board regulates the industry, so there is no conflict of interest from a regulatory standpoint.

      The only potential conflict would come in profit decisions, which is (and should be) left up to the owners. If there are outside shareholders, they also will have a proportional say in those decisions.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Thanks, Kengi. That clarifies it for me.

    • UWIR

      Self-insurance strikes me as the opposite of a conflict of interest. Insurance involves a conflict of interest (see “moral hazard”) that doesn’t exist in the case of self-insurance. Although, if they own the insurance company, I don’t understand why they would refuse coverage. What does it matter to them whether the claims are paid out by the Church, or the insurance company, if they’re the same entity?

  • kaydenpat

    Wow. A church that allows child molesters to continue to have access to children deserves to be shut down. This is criminal behavior.

  • Erp

    Odd that the church is willing to risk its assets if a case does come up with a non-insured priest. With an insured priest the insurance company pays and it would have laid off some of the risk (and the profit) elsewhere so a major loss doesn’t put the insurance company or the diocese under. With an uninsured priest the diocese is fully liable for any cost in a successful lawsuit.

    Now it is possible the church orders them into a closed monastery where they have no access to children and aren’t suppose to leave thereby cutting the church’s immediate risk. Unfortunately the priest could still walk away from the church and find another way outside the church to access the children. A worst scenario is the church moves the priest to another country and gets him insured there (different country, different insurance scheme) or to a place where the victims are unlikely to complain (apparent in the US many problem priests were moved to Native communities in Alaska).

    • UWIR

      “Unfortunately the priest could still walk away from the church and find another way outside the church to access the children.”
      How would the church then have liability?

  • sunburned

    Normally I am all for going after the pedophiles in the RCC. However, I am not too sure that I feel comfortable about obtaining the list of names in this manor.

    I know this isn’t the US, but something feels hinky about it. Privacy issues aside it feels like a trap.

  • UWIR

    It would be nice if it were explained what insurance they are talking about. Isn’t it illegal to offer insurance against intentional acts?


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