The archdiocese has disclosed to The Age that it is providing significant financial support to four clergy released from jail after serving sentences for child sex abuse.
Victim support groups say more clergy found either by police or internal church investigations to have abused children are likely to be receiving financial support from different Catholic orders outside the Melbourne archdiocese's control.
A spokesman for the Melbourne archdiocese said church law required the bishop to ''ensure appropriate financial support is provided to all priests''. ''The archdiocese contributes to rental support and health insurance for four priests who have had their faculties to function as a priest withdrawn, been convicted of child sex offences and completed any term of imprisonment imposed by the courts.''
Paedophile priest Victor Rubeo was receiving financial support until his death last year.
A fifth paedophile priest within the Melbourne archdiocese, Victor Rubeo, was also receiving financial support until his death in December last year, on the day he was to face a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court over 30 fresh child sex abuse charges.
Director of victims support group In Good Faith and Associates, Helen Last, said the generous financial support to paedophile priests was unjust compared with the financial, physical and emotional hardship endured by those who have been abused.
''This seems to be a weak response in terms of discipline and there should be an examination of the archdiocese's relationship with clerical sexual offenders,'' she said. ''The victims are often left out in the cold with no ongoing financial support and help. The money the [convicted] priests get from the church makes it a very unjust situation and demonstrates no awareness by the church of the seriousness of sexual crime.''
Ms Last called on the archdiocese to disclose how many clergy it had confirmed through its own internal investigations had abused children - but were not reported to police - were also receiving financial support.
A spokesman for the Broken Rites victim support group said: ''If abusive clergy receive ongoing support from the church, this shields the offenders from the harsh reality of the long-term harm that they have done to victims.''
The issue of the handling of child sexual abuse within religious organisations is to be investigated by a Victorian parliamentary inquiry. A state government source has confirmed the inquiry will have the power to override any confidentiality agreements abuse victims have signed to receive compensation from religious organisations.