A huge step forward in the Australian Capital Territory. Only a small state where the capital Canberra is, but certainly a move ahead in the right direction.
The ACT has passed a law that priests be included in having to report child abuse to the police, even if they learn about the child abuse in the confessional. And why not! All other professional people involved in dealing with children are bound by the law to report such crimes. Why shouldn't the priests and ministers of religion be required to do the same?
Of course there has been Catholic church leaders loudly protesting such a move being taken, saying it's an invasion of their freedom of religion. How ridiculous. Why should the welfare of children take second place to paedophiles not being reported? It's indefensible.
Priests in Canberra will soon be forced to break the seal of confession to report child abusers, despite fears the new laws impinge on religious freedoms.
All three parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly supported the bill to extend the mandatory reporting scheme to cover churches - and the confessional from March 31 - although two Liberal politicians spoke out about their concerns.
Forcing religious leaders to report allegations of child abuse offered up under the seal of confession was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
Anti-child abuse campaigner Damian De Marco pointed to a statement made by Archbishop Prowse last August that said the seal of confession must not be broken under any circumstances.
"The Catholic Church's leadership has made it clear that the protection of its religious rituals is a higher priority than protecting children in its care,"
Mr De Marco said. "Given the Archbishop's instructions to his staff to disregard ACT child protection laws and follow another country's laws instead, the licensing of this organisation to be entrusted with our children is untenable." The Canberra Times