In Brief

Church rejects calls to force priests to report child abuse

Australian Catholic Church says the seal of the confessional must never be broken

The Australian Catholic Church has rejected calls for priests to be forced to break the seal of confession and report to authorities in the event a person discloses child sexual abuse.

The Church said it would comply with 98% of the recommendations stemming from a nine-month royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which revealed shocking levels of abuse within the Church.

However, the Church pushed back against calls for priests to be compelled to break the confessional seal, arguing that “children would be less safe if mandatory reporting of confessions was required”, the ABC says.

“This is because it is contrary to our faith and inimical to religious liberty," the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) said in a statement.

“We are committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people while maintaining the seal. We do not see the seal as mutually exclusive,” the statement said.

The rejection of the recommendation remains “a huge stumbling block for the institution to regain the trust of the public, which has been riven by child abuse scandals in Australia and abroad”, CNN says.

The Church says that it will also look into creating new canons, including one that would make child sex abuse a canonical crime, not a “moral failing”.

Another of the key recommendations from the Royal Commission report, which called for voluntary celibacy for some members of the clergy, will also be considered by the Church.

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