Parishioners at St. Nicholas' Church in Clifton Hill where Mato Krizanac used to preach.

Parishioners at St. Nicholas’ Church in Clifton Hill. Photo: Angela Wylie

The Catholic Church has expelled an inner-Melbourne priest after  allegations of sexual impropriety  as the sex abuse royal commission begins its Melbourne hearings into decades of  abuse and alleged cover-ups.

The disclosure that the priest’s alleged victim received a financial settlement from the church and refused to assist police has led to the accusation that the church paid hush money. Father Mato Krizanac, 60, of the Croatian Catholic Centre at St Nicholas’ church in Clifton Hill, was the subject of a 12-month internal investigation by the church’s independent commissioner, Peter O’Callaghan, QC, of the Melbourne Response, and the Archdiocese of Adelaide, where the alleged offences are said to have taken place in the mid 1980s.

Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart told Father Krizanac in June that he would be permanently stripped of all clerical duties,  while parishioners were believed to have been informed at Mass on Sunday.

Mato Kri?anacm, Rev from Saint Nicholas in Clifton Hill.

Father Mato Krizanac has been investigated for sex abuse.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Melbourne confirmed the allegations had been referred to South Australian police in April 2013 – a month before Father Krizanac was placed on “administrative leave” by the church.

The alleged victim received a financial settlement from the  church, but refused to assist police, who were unable to investigate the matter.

A close friend of Father Krizanac, Anton Vucic, said the Bosnian-born priest was the victim of a vendetta by the church hierarchy, which was trying to “clear the decks” before the royal commission. Mr Vucic claimed the church had paid the alleged victim in a bid to buy her silence.