Melbourne Archbishop Says He Would Uphold Seal Of Confession Rather Than Report Child Sex Abuse
Melbourne's most senior Catholic has shocked many people in his defence of the seal of confession.
Archbishop Peter Comensoli revealed that he wouldn't report child sex abuse claims to police, or other crimes, if it was said to him during confession.
Speaking to ABC Radio this morning, Archbishop Comensoli told host John Faine: "Personally, I'll keep the seal.
"I will speak to the person there and then about how they will need to go to the police about this or an appropriate authority and [ask them] at the end of the confession to repeat what they said outside of the seal so I can act.
"My basic position in this: I hold the principle of mandatory reporting...I also hold on to the principle of the seal of confession.
"I don't see them as mutually exclusive."
The high ranking Australian Catholic said he would rather go to jail in order to uphold his pledge to his job and to God than go to police with information about a potential abuser.
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It brings them in line with other members of the public like teachers and doctors who have to go to police if they hear potential abuse claims.
While the Archbishop said he would encourage the potential abuse to report themselves to police, his admittance that he wouldn't go to the cops has angered people.
Attorney-General Jill Hennessy told reporters: "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.
"I would expect anyone who is aware of a commission of a crime would have the wherewithal and the personal ethics to report that crime."
That sentiment was echoed but anti-child sex abuse advocate Chrissie Foster who said: "The Catholic priesthood says that the seal of confession is sacrosanct.
"Sacrosanct means something is too important or valuable to be interfered with. Well I say the bodies and lives of children are sacrosanct."
While confession has been around in the Catholic church for hundreds of years, it's baffling to think in 2019 you'd have a leader in Australia defend his right to not put someone behind bars and stop them from abusing people.
Featured Image Credit: Peter Comensoli/Twitter