Melbourne’s Catholic archbishop Peter Comensoli says his principles of reporting child abuse do not remove his responsibility to the sanctity of the seal.  He says he’ll go to jail before he breaks the seal of confession after a bill forcing religious leaders to report child abuse landed in the Victorian parliament.  Under the new laws, disclosures of abuse during religious confession will not be exempt and must be reported to police.  Under current laws, priests are exempt from mandatory requirements but the Andrews Labor government is seeking to introduce amendments to extend the criminal offence to religious leaders.

When asked, Archbishop Comensoli said: “Personally, I’ll keep the seal.”  When asked if he was prepared to go to jail he said: “I’ll say for myself, yes.”  Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the welfare of children was more important than the seal of confession.  “We promised to put the safety of children ahead of the secrecy of the confessional and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” she said.  Victorian Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said everyone had an obligation to report child abuse.  “These are significant reforms, and they will go a long way to ensuring future generations of children are protected from the harm that far too many suffered in the past,” he said.

 Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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