THE Australian Catholic Church holds thousands of pages of documents containing the psycho-sexual profiles of dozens of clergy accused of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults.
The profiles, often sent to bishops, were created as part of the church's little-known 1997-2008 rehabilitation program for those it described as ''sexual boundary violators''.
It is understood none of the clergy treated under the multimillion-dollar Encompass Australasia program run from Sydney's Wesley Private Hospital was referred to police.
This was despite senior church figures being aware of serious abuse allegations - or in some cases, admissions - that led to clergy being sent for treatment.
A New South Wales police spokeswoman said although police had received some abuse information from the church, it could not find any records showing referrals out of the Encompass Australasia program.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graeme Ashton told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry last month that church leaders in Melbourne had not reported any abuse cases to police.
Sources familiar with Encompass Australasia told Fairfax Media that offending clergy were quietly ''transitioned'' out of the church, receiving generous payouts, accommodation and university education.
''There were some outrageous situations that would have been very embarrassing for the church had they become public,'' a well-placed source said. ''Deals were cut. The whole operation was extremely confidential.''
NSW District Court documents show that a former Marist brother, Ross Murrin, who in 2002 admitted to church leaders that he had sexually abused eight primary school boys in the 1970s, was sent to Encompass Australasia for six months' treatment in 2002-03.
The court heard that many of the victims turned to drugs and alcohol, with one dying of a drug overdose.
After admitting the abuse to senior church figures, Murrin was sent to Rome to work for the church as a translator. Police did not learn of his crimes until mid-2007. He was charged soon after and returned to Australia where he pleaded guilty and received an 18-month jail term.
In another case, a Sydney priest treated by Encompass Australasia after he allegedly made a young woman from an ethnic community pregnant was paid to quietly leave the church, with his accommodation and tertiary study fully funded. The young woman and her child were sent back to their home country.
The revelation of the church's wealth of knowledge of the psycho-sexual make-up of many clergy and its failure to report abuse allegations comes after Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, this week said the church had been the victim of an exaggerated media campaign.
Cardinal Pell was speaking in response to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a royal commission on the abuse of children, a decision he supports.
The Encompass Australasia program was established in 1997 and funded by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes to assess and treat male clergy for psycho-sexual disorders.
It was linked to Catholic Church Insurances Limited, which provided secretarial support and was represented on the Encompass Australasia board.
The program treated about 1100 people, including hundreds of clergy from Australia and nearby countries.
Church officials from other denominations were also treated, though they were far fewer in number. Clergy were also treated for depression and substance abuse.
Psychological reports on patients were prepared and assessments made on the likelihood of clergy reoffending. The reports were often made available to senior church leaders and the church's lawyers.
Psychologists associated with the Encompass Australasia program have told Fairfax Media the clinical treatment provided was world-class and that the church's 2008 decision to close it was troubling.
''It was a deluxe treatment program, highly expensive but highly effective,'' one clinician said. ''It was designed to prevent reoffending and we'd make recommendations about who posed a risk to children or vulnerable adults. To my knowledge, [the Catholic Church] is the only institution that did not kick out paedophiles. It tried to help them.''
In 2005, Encompass Australasia had 160 clients in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region under continuing care.
Some clinicians, who asked not to be identified because of confidentiality agreements they had signed, have privately expressed concern over the church's failure to report to police clergy who had admitted abuse or were accused of serious offences that led to their referral to Encompass Australia.
''There is a balance between confidentiality and a duty to warn and inform. The duty to warn overrides confidentiality,'' said one clinician, who saw dozens of clergy with psycho-sexual disorders at Encompass Australasia's Sydney clinic.
Corporate records show Encompass Australasia was de-registered in 2010 after it began winding down operations in mid-2008 because of funding problems.
High-ranking Catholics Father Brian Lucas and Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who are under NSW police investigation over their handling of complaints about a serial child-abusing priest, were appointed to the Encompass Australasia board in July and September 2008.
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who has won plaudits for his efforts to improve the Catholic Church's response to child sex abuse, led the Encompass Australasia board between 1997 and 2005.
Bishop Robinson told Fairfax Media that Encompass Australasia's ability to treat clergy for psycho-sexual disorders would have been greatly compromised had those attending the clinic been reported to police. ''No one would come for treatment if they thought they would be referred to the police,'' he said.
Bishop Robinson, who this week described Cardinal Pell as an embarrassment over his stance on child sexual abuse, said he was surprised to hear that clergy accused of abuse had been relocated after treatment under the Encompass Australasia program.
''There should not have been any moving of priests around over the past 16 years… since the Towards Healing process was introduced,'' he said.
The defunct website of Encompass Australasia describes the organisation as ''an independent company established by the Australian Catholic Church for the good of society''.