The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference is the latest of the country’s senior clerics to push back against legislation to lift the seal of confession for child sexual abuse.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane made a submission to the Queensland state government opposing draft legislation that would see priests face up to three years in jail for failing to report confessions of child sexual abuse to the police; the penalty would be five years for “failure to protect.”
In his submission, Archbishop Coleridge said a confession is between the penitent and God, and the priest’s task is to enable that dialogue.
“The proposed legislation would make the priest at this vital point less a servant of God than an agent of the state,” said Archbishop Coleridge. “The mechanism within this legislation which deals with the confessional seal quite simply will not make a difference to the safety of our young people.”
Many priests have said they have never heard a confession from a child abuser, and some have noted that the psychopathy of many offenders is such that they do not believe they have done anything wrong.
Picture: Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops’ conference. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella).