Controversy over mandatory reporting of confession

Controversy has erupted once again over whether priests and religious leaders are subject to mandatory reporting laws after a "priest" at an evangelic Christian church in Melbourne did not report a child sex abuse confession.

The Herald Sun reports the priest will not be charged over not reporting the assault despite the pentinent striking again.

The case has stirred debate over the role of the churches in handling confessions by lawbreakers and raised questions about whether religious leaders should be subject to mandatory reporting obligations.

Teachers, doctors, nurses and other professionals are legally bound to report suspected sex abuse cases.

Social commentator Fr Bob McGuire (pictured) said in theory a priest offering his own help would be the right course of action.

However, in practice, this was relinquishing responsibility.

"Priests are not qualified to handle such sensitive matters," Fr McGuire said

"It may not be legally mandatory reporting (for priests), but it would be morally mandatory reporting - even if it was my brother.

"It's a civil society's expectation," he said.

Child abuse prevention group Childwise's Bernadette McMenamin said priests should be covered by the same mandatory reporting rules.

"With all good intentions, offenders have been protected by churches," she said.

"I believe everyone should report abuse. It's their moral duty. If it takes mandatory reporting to make sure, that's how it will have to be."

SOURCE

Priest can't be prosecuted for failing to report abuse (Herald Sun 28/02/08)

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Father Bob MacGuire