Breaking the seal of confession won't help children

The scheme would see priests forced to break the seal of Confession (

The ACT Government’s plans to expand the Reportable Conduct Scheme to include religious organisations should not ignore the concerns of the Catholic community, writes Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse. Source: Canberra Times.

The Catholic Church shares the government’s concern to protect the safety of children and wishes to be a part of the solution. The draft laws are a consequence of the profound failure of the leadership of the Church and the duty of care we owe to children. It is a failure that will haunt the Church for decades, and which has haunted many survivors for even longer.

For these failures, the Church is sorry. I am sorry.

At the same time, we are doing all that we can to make sure our schools and parishes are safe places and our protocols and procedures for responding immediately to such issues are in place. We have heard the Australian community, including the very concerned Catholic community, we have learned, and responded on a practical level. I am, committed to continuing this important work.

I support the government’s reportable conduct scheme. When the government scheme to report all child abuse allegations to the ACT Ombudsman did not include parishes and communities of faith, I called for that anomaly to be rectified and strengthened. But I cannot support the government’s plan to break the seal on religious confession.

The government claimed it was interested in consultation on this crucial issue, inviting me to meet with the Attorney General to discuss the importance of both the protection of children and the seal of the confession. Yet, today, the government is debating legislation before that meeting has taken place. It is vital we get this right. The Catholic community wants us to fix this.

The reason these laws are likely to pass is not the protection of children, but the shocking history of abuse in the Catholic Church. Sadly, breaking the sacred seal of confession won’t prevent abuse and it won’t help our ongoing efforts to improve the safety of children in Catholic institutions. We urge the chief minister to allow the Catholic community into this conversation to ensure we are a part of the solution.


Reporting scheme shouldn’t ignore Catholic community’s concerns (Canberra Times)

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