Left Menu
Development News Edition

Australia moves closer to compulsory child abuse reporting by priests

Reuters | Canberra | Updated: 30-11-2019 06:35 IST | Created: 30-11-2019 06:31 IST
Australia moves closer to compulsory child abuse reporting by priests
Image Credit: Storyblocks

Australia's top attorneys agreed on Friday to standardise laws across the country forcing priests to report child abuse revealed to them during confessions in a move that could widen a schism between the church and the government. Federal and state attorneys-general agreed on key principles for the laws, which fall under the responsibility of state and territory governments and which address the most contentious recommendations from a government inquiry into child abuse.

With half of the country's population identifying themselves as Christian, Australia has faced a crisis of faith amid worldwide allegations that churches and religious leaders had protected pedophile priests and habitually covered sexual abuse. "Confessional privilege cannot be relied upon to avoid a child protection or criminal obligation to report beliefs, suspicions or knowledge of child abuse," according to a communique published after the attorneys meet.

In addition, priests would not be able to use a "confessional privilege" defense to avoid giving evidence against a third party in criminal or civil proceedings. Although most states have already been working on such laws, the unified position would implement a nationwide standard - but could also lead to a widening rift between the church and the government in a country that adheres to a secular constitution.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the country's top Catholic body, said the Catholic Church supports "nationally consistent" reporting regimes to protect children. However, he said, the church does not consider the removal of the legal protection for the "sacramental seal of confession" helpful or necessary.

"The removal of protections at law would be ineffective, counter-productive and unjust: ineffective because abusers do not seek out a confession and certainly would not seek it out if they knew that their offenses would be reported," Coleridge was cited as saying in a statement e-mailed to Reuters. "Counter-productive because the rare opportunity a priest may have to counsel abusers to turn themselves in and amend their life would be lost; and unjust because it would establish as a matter of law a situation where a priest would not be able to defend himself against an accusation made against him."

In 2017, Australia ended a five-year powerful government inquiry into institutional child sex abuse, which came up with 122 recommendations, including that Australia introduces a law forcing religious leaders to report child abuse. Australia's Cardinal George Pell, who is appealing a conviction for sexually assaulting two teen-aged choir boys, has been so far the most senior Catholic official worldwide to be jailed for child sex offenses.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



China: A savior for emerging markets or a poison pill?

... ...

Future of Urban Planning: Artificial Intelligence guiding the way

Advances in emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can help us understand our cities better and derive useful insights from real-time data collected through automated models....


Latest News

Russian conscript jailed for 24-1/2 years for killing eight people - TASS

A conscript was sentenced to 24-12 years in prison by a Russian court on Thursday for killing eight people at a military base in 2019, a crime he said was provoked by bullying, the TASS news agency reported. Ramil Shamsutdinov opened fire o...

Russia reports 21,887 new coronavirus cases, 612 deaths

Russia on Thursday reported 21,887 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 3,458 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 3,655,839, according to the countrys coronavirus crisis response centre.The centre said 612 people died ...

UK minister hopes teachers will be prioritised for vaccines

Britains education minister Gavin Williamson said on Thursday he hoped that teachers would be up the list for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when the first wave of vaccinations is completed.Britain aims to give shots to 15 million people by m...

London stocks rise on swift economic recovery, U.S. stimulus optimism

British shares tracked gains in Asian peers on Thursday, lifted by hopes of a swifter economic rebound this year and more U.S. stimulus, while Pets at Home headed higher after reporting upbeat quarterly results. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index...

Give Feedback