Child protection bill a ‘covert attack’ on the Church

Charles Smith (The Record/Jamie O’Brien)

West Australian politician Charles Smith has described a bill before the state’s Upper House as an attack on the freedom of Catholics to practise their faith. Source: The Record.

Mr Smith, who is the parliamentary representative of the Western Australian Party, said the McGowan Government’s Children and Community Services Amendment Bill is expected to be passed in the Upper House in coming days.

If passed, Mr Smith said, it will “significantly affect the ability of Catholics within Western Australia to practice their religion”.

As a former child protection police officer, Mr Smith said he commends efforts by the Government to improve the safety and welfare of children.

“However I do not support what appears to be a covert attack on the Catholic Church,” he said.

Mr Smith said the bill compels ministers of religion to violate the seal of confession and report to authorities any occasions when historical or current allegations of child sexual abuse is suspected.

Canon Law dictates that the consequences for a priest who breaks the Seal of Confession is excommunication.

“I am concerned that enemies of the Church may take advantage of this new law to entrap or frame Catholic priests,” Mr Smith said.

He said he has introduced an amendment to the bill to make sure the sacrament of Confession remains intact.


EXCLUSIVE: WA politician highlights problems with new confession laws (By Jamie O'Brien, The Record

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