Left Menu
Development News Edition

Australia moves closer to compulsory child abuse reporting by priests

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.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.



SDG13: How you can reduce global warming by changing your food habits

The mega narratives of various international organizations give the impression that fighting global warming is only a job of government agencies. However, the European Investment Bank EIB has designed a questionnaire which besides making th...

SDG2030: Challenges of technological applications in advancing Global Goals

Application of contemporary and future information technologies may go milestones in advancing sustainable development goals SDGs provided the challenges are overcome and implementation is ensured....

Sustainable Fashion: UNDP wants you to wear properly to reduce Global Warming 

The experts have estimated that the amount of water used to prepare one pair of jeans and a T shirt is sufficient for a person to drink for 13 years....

World Economic Forum suggests 8 Education Models for Future Schools

In a report released on January 14, the World Economic Forum WEF has also picked two examples for each model from throughout the world. The WEF has emphasized that these schools systems would be crucial for Forth Industrial Revolution.&#160...


Latest News

UPDATE 1-Facebook says technical error caused vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name

Facebook Inc on Saturday blamed a technical error for Chinese leader Xi Jinpings name appearing as Mr Shithole in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologising for any offence caused. The error came to light o...

UPDATE 4-Sixty killed in Houthi attack on camp in Yemen's Marib

Iran-aligned Houthis attacked a military training camp in the Yemeni city of Marib on Saturday, killing 60 military personnel and wounding dozens others, Saudi state television said on Saturday evening.Al Ekhbariya television quoted sources...

Jammu and Kashmir is a crown of India; Centre working hard for its development: Ashwani Choubey

As a part of the first batch of Union Cabinet Ministers arrived here under the Centres outreach programme after the abrogation of Article 370, Union Minister Ashwini Choubey on Saturday said that Jammu and Kashmir is a crown of India and th...

Impossible to provide proof of religious persecution under CAA: Assam Min Himanta Biswa

Amid anti-CAA protest in Assam, state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that it is impossible for the person to go back to Bangladesh and collect a copy of police report to show the proof of religious persecution. If a person has to...

Give Feedback