A Queensland Government minister has hit back at Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge over comments criticising proposed laws that would compel priests to report the confessions of child abusers. Source: Brisbane Times.
By Lydia Lynch, Brisbane Times
Transport Minister Mark Bailey took to social media yesterday to slam Archbishop Coleridge’s claims laws would “not make a difference to the safety of our young people”.
“Given the exposure of widespread institutional sexual abuse of children within many organisations including the Catholic Church, I’m deeply disturbed to hear the Archbishop of Brisbane advocate for continuing the exemption of priests from reporting child sexual abuse to police when made aware of it in confession,” he wrote on Facebook.
“This goes against the recommendations of the ground-breaking royal commission widely accepted in our community to stop the sexual abuse of children. The secrecy, the cover-ups must stop.”
Under the proposed law, the sanctity of the confessional could not be used as an excuse, defence or privilege.
Archbishop Coleridge says the laws would “limit and unjustly interfere” with the human rights of Catholics.
It stemmed from a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and follows similar moves by other states.
Archbishop Coleridge, who is also President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said mandatory reporting should remain in place, but “the privilege of confession be left intact”.
“Its abolition would make it certain that abusers would never speak of the abuse in the sacramental celebration, and any hope there may have been that they might be led to see the truth of their crime, stop the abuse and report to civil authorities would be lost,” he wrote.
“The state would effectively be saying that there is some sin that cannot be forgiven, that God has no part to play in this, that clergy should be agents of the state, that the sacrament of penance is outlawed.”
‘I’m deeply disturbed’: Minister condemns Archbishop’s claims (Brisbane Times)