Independent senator Nick Xenophon says it is wrong for the confessional to be exempt from mandatory reporting laws in child abuse cases.
There should be "a debate about the sanctity of the confessional and the role the church has had in relation to information raised about child sexual abuse," Senator Xenophon said yesterday, commenting on allegations that Archbishop Philip Wilson had not reported cases in the 1970s and 80s to the police.
"There are now mandatory reporting requirements but the confessional is exempt," Sen Xenophon was quoted in The Australian.
Senator Xenophon said current laws required priests to report sexual abuse cases to police only if they come to light outside the confession booth.
"If someone has confessed to a priest with information about the abuse of children, whether they're the perpetrator or not, then shouldn't the authorities know about that?" he said.
ABC has reported that New South Wales police are investigating complaints that Adelaide Archbishop Phillip Wilson mishandled alleged sexual abuse cases by clergymen in the 1970s and '80s. A spokeswoman for the Archbishop says the allegations are without basis.
Church confessions of abuse 'should be reported' (The Australian)
Priests must report abuse confessions: Xenophon (ABC)
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