Reporting confessional sex abuse claims should be 'non-negotiable': victims' lawyer


A lawyer for victims of child sex abuse says it's a "no-brainer" priests should report information on crimes learned in the confessional.

It should be "non-negotiable" that priests break the seal of confession to report abuse, says a lawyer and advocate for survivors of child sex abuse.

Dr Judy Courtin, who has represented victims of child sexual abuse, says priests are no different to any other professional and they should be mandated by law to report crimes of suspicions of crimes.

"It's a no-brainer. The only consideration should be the protection and safety of children and vulnerable adults," Dr Courtin told AAP on Friday.

"What would God say about keeping someone else's crimes secret and private?"

The confessional seal only served to protect offenders, Dr Courtin said.

Her comments come as the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference made public its response to recommendations from the child abuse royal commission.

ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge has criticised laws requiring priests to break the seal of confession to reveal child sexual abuse as ill-conceived.

He said the seal of confession is inviolable and a non-negotiable part of Catholic religious life.

It is the one recommendation of the child abuse royal commission the ACBC and peak body for religious orders, Catholic Religious Australia, say they cannot accept.

Aside from the rejection of this recommendation, the Church's response has been welcomed by advocacy group Concerned Catholics Canberra Goulburn.

The group, made up of around 500 people in the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese, has praised Archbishop Coleridge for being open on changes to mandatory celibacy.

"We should not let the bishops' refusal to consider doing away with the seal of the confession overshadow the significance of the many steps the bishops say they will now consider, steps that if implemented, would benefit the church and the faithful," Concerned Catholics chair Professor John Warhurst, said on Friday.

Source AAP - SBS

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