A new Queensland law requires priests to report to police any information about child sexual offences heard during confession. Source: The Catholic Leader.
According to the law, all adults will have a legal duty to report to police sexual offending against children, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so.
The law came into force on Monday. It passed through the state’s Parliament with support from both major parties last September, despite the Church defending the seal of confession.
In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained that stripping Catholics of the seal of confession made priests “less a servant of God than an agent of the state”.
The new law arose as a result of recommendations from the royal commission into child sexual abuse. The maximum penalty for failing to report belief of a child sexual offence is three years’ imprisonment.
Queensland joins South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory to have already enacted laws that make it a criminal offence for a priest to withhold abuse disclosures.
A Brisbane Archdiocese letter sent to all parish employees explained the changes “should be noted by all Queenslanders, including those within our parishes and schools and similar institutions”.
New Queensland law makes all adults responsible for reporting abuse (By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader)