The most senior Catholic in Melbourne says he will defy proposed laws requiring priests to report sexual abuse revealed during confession.
New laws were introduced to the parliament forcing religious leaders and priests to report any suspicions of abuse.
They can face up to three years in jail if they do not report child sexual or physical abuse allegations.
Even though the church supports mandatory reporting to authorities, Archbishop Peter Comensoli said he was ready to go to prison than dob in pedos.
Archbishop Comensoli said to ABC Radio Melbourne that if a suspected pedo refused to dob themselves in, he would not report it to the police.
He said: “Personally, I’ll keep the seal.”
When questioned if he was ready to go to prison, he said: “I’ll say for myself, yes. My own position is that I don’t see that as mutually exclusive.”
He said in a statement: “For Catholics, confession is a religious encounter of a deeply personal nature. It deserves confidentiality.”
Archbishop Comensoli also surged the government not to interfere with religious freedom.
“Confession doesn’t place people above the law. Priests should be mandatory reporters, but in a similar way to protections to the lawyer/client relationship and protection for journalists’ sources,” he said.
Current laws require Victorian teachers, counselors, nurses, police and youth justice workers to report to authorities if they suspect someone has abused a minor.
Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said to reporters that children come before religious beliefs. “I don’t think in contemporary and mainstream times, knowing what we know now, that we can do anything other than say the rights of children trump anyone’s religious views.
“Ultimately, this is about making sure that we start to right the wrongs of systemic abuse.
“We promised to put the safety of children ahead of the secrecy of the confession and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
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