Confession in Australia may not remain sealed

Whether what is heard in confession stays in confession is being considered by the Australian Royal Commission investigating sexual abuse.

Throughout the hearings the Royal Commission has heard a number of perspectives on this issue.

For example, a priest (later jailed) said while continuing to abuse his victims he confessed his paedophilia several times.

When asked if that was the way he reconciled his actions with God, he said:

“Yes. Well I thought I was. I know that was very seriously flawed.”

Another perspective came from a priest who heard the confession of another priest known to him.

“I gave absolution and, as he walked out the door, he laughed at me.

“In other words, he made sure that I couldn’t speak to anyone. I felt totally entrapped by that situation.”

Removing the confidentiality of the Catholic confessional box could stop paedophiles ever admitting to their crimes is the view of yet another priest.

However, Chief executive, of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, says obligations to report child sexual abuse should not extend to divulging information in the confessional.

However he noted “If  the royal commission recommends changing [the confessional] privilege laws … and if governments change the law then priests like everybody else will need to either abide by the law and  if they don’t …. take the consequences.”


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News category: World.

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