A push to jail priests who fail to report suspected child abuse when it's revealed through confession has been called “unnecessary” and “discriminatory” by South Australia’s Attorney-General Vickie Chapman. Source: ABC News.
From October 1, South Australia will become the first state where priests will be legally obliged to report any confessions of child sex abuse. If they don’t they could receive a $10,000 fine.
SA Best has put forward a new bill to Parliament which would mean priests could face up to five years in prison if they failed to report suspected child sex abuse.
It would also close a loophole that allows future governments to remove priests from the list of people required to report such abuse.
Ms Chapman said any changes to the regulations to be introduced next month would be “unusual” and if priests were brought into question, why not teachers, nurses and social workers as well.
“On the face of it, the first aspect is unnecessary, and the second aspect is discriminatory just against ministers of religion,” she said.
“That wouldn’t be something that we would endorse because if a law is to be equal, everyone is to be equal before the law.”
SA Best MP Connie Bonaros said tougher laws were needed, and if the party’s new bill passed, it would also be a crime for priests to fail to report other crimes against children including murder and incest.
“The bill is aiming at closing a loophole in legislation which puts at risk mandatory notification requirements for priests who hear confession,” she told the ABC.
“We know up until now priests who hear confessions have always been exempted from mandatory notification requirements.
“Last year state Parliament introduced the bill which lifted that exemption, however it was done by regulation, which means that this government or any other government could come back and re-insert the exemption that applied to the confessional.”
The Church said it would not change its secrecy rules regarding confession because it was contrary to its faith.