TJH Council calls for law to protect the confessional

Submission to commission

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council has called for new national laws making it a crime to not report information about child sex abuse — unless it is obtained by a priest ­during the confession. The Australian reports.

In a formal submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the TJHC has argued that this exemption would reflect Victorian legislation granting a similar “occasion of privilege” to that protecting commun­ic­ations between lawyers and their clients.

Under questioning at the commission yesterday, TJHC CEO Francis Sullivan said “parliaments will need to make their own decisions and then … priests will, like everybody else, have to obey the law or disobey the law.”

A series of child abuse scandals in recent decades has revealed “a shameful history, a rather confronting history within the Catholic Church of how sexual offenders were handled,” Mr Sullivan said.

This included the cover-up of known child sex offenders, and the moving of paedophile priests ­between parishes or dioceses, ­allowing them to offend again.

“We’re talking about culture. We’re talking about self-preservation. We’re talking about how the powers that be at a given time are more concerned about public scandal and reputation damage … than they were about the specific interests of a child,” he said.

The issue is expected to provoke controversy when the commission holds a three-week hearing into the Church in February, having ­recently flagged it will consider “the protection of the confessional.”

The commission has the power to recommend changes to laws in some States allowing priests who hear admissions of criminal ­activity during confession to not report this to police.

FULL COVERAGE

Catholics want law to protect confessional (The Australian)

'Self-serving' culture in Catholic Church (AAP/Seven News)

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