Pope Francis abolishes pontifical

Submission to Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry

Author: Vicar General Catholic Archdiocese Melbourne

Publication: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne

Date: 23AUG2011

5.9 We also believe that clergy need to be legislated as mandatory reporters of child abuse. (T100/32)It is implicit in this request that it be an obligation for priests to violate the “sacramental seal” of the confession. The suggestion is that requiring priests to report any admissions of child abuse made in the confessional to the police will protect children from further abuse. The desire to do everything possible to protect children from abuse is compelling. Mandatory reporting of child abuse is an important part of this vital task.  However, if the anonymity of the encounter in the confessional could not be assured, it is unlikely that anyone would confess to the terrible sin and crime of the sexual abuse of children. An important dimension of confession is that it gives the confessor a chance, perhaps the only chance they are open to, to confront the terrible nature of their behaviour. The imposition of mandatory reporting, and the subsequent destruction of the confidentiality of the confessional, would remove any hope that this outcome might eventuate. The abuser will not take the risk of revealing his or her crimes to another. As such, the opportunity for the offender to be encouraged to cease offending, to go to the police or to take other appropriate action, would be lost.

For more information visit: http://childprotectioninquiry.vic.gov.au/images/stories/submissions/catholic-archdiocese-of-melbourne.pdf

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