Austrian Catholic Church sets up victims fund

Vienna, Austria - Austria's Catholic Church is going to set up a fund to compensate victims abused by clergy, the Church's bishops announced Wednesday in the town of Mariazell.

At least 1,000 Austrians have in recent months contacted various helplines to talk about sexual and physical abuse cases, as reports about scandals have swept across Europe.

Although the bishops adopted rules on dealing with such incidents in a more transparent and just manner, there was not decision to automatically report cases to judicial authorities.

They said only that suspect priests would be urged to turn themselves in, and that the Church would inform prosecutors in case of "imminent danger" that other victims might be harmed.

The amount to be put in the victims fund was not announced.

The bishops said it would be used to pay compensation and therapy for victims.

An independent advocacy group said Tuesday it had filed claims on behalf of 131 victims, asking for compensation of up to 130,000 euros (160,000 dollars) per person.