Laws forcing priests to report child sexual abuse if they hear about it during Confession are unworkable, unenforceable and have no public policy value, writes Nathan Hondros. Source: WAtoday.
In fact, the more you look into them, the more they look like a cynical waste of time designed to distract voters from serious child protection failures in Western Australia, ones that do require action, ones which the McGowan Government has been unable – or reluctant – to deal with head-on.
On Wednesday, only a day before Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk announced confession laws, the government released a response to a coronial inquest into the suicides of 13 Aboriginal children in the Kimberley which amounted to a “statement of intent” to do something about it some other time. And in the Pilbara, there are at least 224 victims of child sex abuse in Karratha, Roebourne and surrounding towns.
Some of these kids are today at school with those accused of abusing them.
True, the government can’t solve the child abuse problems plaguing some Aboriginal communities with a simple change to the law, but surely children in dangerous situations should be the priority.
Although laws designed to pierce the confessional seal are a trend among progressive legislatures throughout the world – in recent weeks California has tried to introduce a watered-down version – they won’t work.
Anyone who bothers to talk to a priest about these laws quickly learns they would rather go to prison than break the confessional seal.
This is not because they are interested in protecting child abusers from criminal prosecution, but because Catholic and Eastern Orthodox priests view confession as a sacrament, an act of worship between the penitent and God.
You might disagree – of course, many do – but priests devote their lives to the sacraments, including confession. And this is why they won’t violate it.
– Nathan Hondros is WAtoday’s political reporter.