Don’t report sex abuses revealed in confessional: Australia bishops

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SYDNEY: Priests should not be forced to report child sexual abuse revealed in the confessional, top Australian Catholics said Tuesday, adding they would rather risk jail than break the sacramental seal. The comments follow a national inquiry set up by the government into institutional child sexual abuse, which is in its final phase after more than four years of hearings. The Royal Commission released 85 proposed reforms Monday, including a law making failure to report such abuse a criminal offense even when the information was revealed during confession. “There [should]be no exemption, excuse, protection or privilege from the offence granted to clergy,” it said. One of Australia’s leading Catholic clerics, Archbishop of MelbourneAust Denis Hart, said that confession was a fundamental part of religious freedom. Asked if priests would go to jail rather than breach the seal of confession, Hart told ABC radio: “I’ve said that I would.” Hart was backed by other high-profile clerics, including his Brisbane counterpart Mark Coleridge and Jesuit priest and lawyer Father Frank Brennan.

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