Australian Catholic Church rejects compulsory abuse reporting

Child abuse in the Catholic Church organisations has been in the news around the world. At long last, Catholic Church under Pope Francis has acknowledged the existing problem. 

Hopefully it will allow honest introspection within the catholic community and stop the abuse of children and orphans in its homes.


Australian Catholic Church rejects compulsory abuse reporting

Authorities in Australia want to force priests to report abuse but Church says seal of confession should not be broken.

Archbishop Coleridge said that the seal of confession was too important to break to report sexual abuse [David Gray/Reuters]
Archbishop Coleridge said that the seal of confession was too important to break to report sexual abuse [David Gray/Reuters]

The Australian Catholic Church has rejected a recommendation to implement laws forcing priests and other members of the Church to report sexual abuse.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), the country’s top Catholic body, said on Friday it will not break the seal of confession, one of the core beliefs of the Catholic faith, even if that means the clergy might face criminal charges.

“First of all, the seal is a non-negotiable of our religious life, and it embodies a particular understanding of the believer and God,” ACBC President Archbishop Mark Coleridge said at a press conference.

“We don’t believe it will make children safer, and in certain cases we think it could make children less safe. Any suggestion that a perpetrator may, in fact, confess is removed all but certainly by the imposition of a law such as this,” he added, saying that most confessions are done anonymously and do not go into much detail.

Australian archbishop avoids prison after concealing child abuse

About seven percent of Australian priests were accused of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2011, according to a five-year-long inquiry by Australian authorities into the large-scale abuse by members of the Catholic Church.

The inquiry added that more than 4,400 people reported abuse, with the average age of the victim being almost 11 for girls and almost 12 for boys.

The Catholic Church is trying to deal with thousands of cases of sexual abuse around the world.

More than 1,000 children were molested by hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in six dioceses just in the US state of Pennsylvania alone.

Last week, Pope Francis addressed victims of sexual abuse in Ireland, saying he felt shame over the Catholic Church’s failure to prevent sexual abuse by members of the clergy. He also referred to abusers as “repugnant”.

In Australia, one state and a territory have introduced laws making it a crime for priests to fail to report abuse heard in the confessional after the inquiry released its findings.

“All delicts relating to child sexual abuse should be articulated as canonical crimes against the child, not as moral failings or as breaches of the ‘special obligation’ of clerics and religious to observe celibacy,” the ACBC wrote in its report.


Pope tells Ireland he feels ‘pain, shame’ over sex abuse scandal

Last month, an Australian archbishop was sentenced to a year in detention for concealing past sexual abuse, becoming the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman to face confinement for a cover-up.