Australia

Archbishop pledges to protect confessional seal despite paedophile reporting bill

Victoria’s top-ranking Catholic is willing to put himself in opposition to the law to protect the sanctity of the confessional.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli is defending the integrity and secrecy of confession - even if that means possible jail time.

Melbourne's Catholic archbishop Peter Comensoli.
Melbourne's Catholic archbishop Peter Comensoli.
AAP

The senior Catholic figure maintains he would encourage abusers to come forward to police, but has told the ABC he won't breach the conventional rules around confession.

“I will speak to the person there and then about how they will need to one, go to the police or appropriate authority, and two, I would be asking them to at the end of the confession - to then repeat what they said outside of the seal so that I can then act," he told ABC radio.

The comment was made after a new legislation was introduced to the Victorian parliament which would effectively force priests to report suspected child abuse.

When asked how he would approach sensitive confessional material, the archbishop pledged to keep secret what is discussed during the traditional practice.

“Personally, I’ll keep the seal," he said.

Priests who have been found to withold information relating to child abuse could face jail time.
Priests who have been found to withold information relating to child abuse could face jail time.
AAP

The Vatican has already downplayed law reforms in an effort to protect the institution’s longstanding traditions.

Penalties of up to three years behind bars could apply for priests who are found to have knowingly concealed child abuse information.

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