Catholic leaders here have agreed to refuse to break the church's seal of confession to report child sex abuse to the secular authorities, one of the recommendations made by the royal commission into institutional child sex abuse in Australia. Sixty percent of all religious cases presented to the commission involved the Catholic church.
We now have a situation in some Australian states where Catholic priests will be breaking the law and risking jail time to avoid reporting sex abuse to children. What a preposterous position the church has put itself in.
The church obviously has declared that they will redouble their efforts to stamp out paedophilia within the church, but they have declared the confessional is off limits. They have put the doctrine of the church above secular law, and above protection of children.
They cite religious freedom as the reason why. Well how has their religious freedom worked out so far then?
It will be up to Pope Francis and his advisers to act on many of the Australian child abuse royal commission's far-reaching recommendations and its implications for centuries-old canon law.
But Australian bishops will not yield to the royal commission's call to break the seal of confession to reveal child sexual abuse, even if priests face the prospect of criminal charges under extended mandatory reporting laws.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the peak body for religious orders, Catholic Religious Australia, said it was the one royal commission recommendation they could not accept.
"This is because it is contrary to our faith and inimical to religious liberty," ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge and CRA president Sister Monica Cavanagh said. Nine News