Forgive me father

The Catholic Church continues to place its own interests ahead of the children hurt by members of its own clergy.
Later this year SA will join the ACT in requiring priests to report abuse revealed in confession.
Those who do not comply face a $10,000 penalty.
Last week, however, Acting Adelaide Archbishop Greg O’Kelly announced that the change “doesn’t affect us”.
Others within the church have said priests will go to jail, rather than break what the church considers to be its most sacred rule.
In the face of this change, the Catholic Church continues to deny protection to the most vulnerable members of the community, preferring instead to adhere to its rule that what is said in the confessional, stays in the confessional.
For Heaven’s sake, this is not a footy trip!
The Catholic Church’s schooling arm – Catholic Education SA – educates some 46,000 students across 103 schools at any one time.
It is an institution that places the safety of its students as one of its key priorities.
It is in sharp contrast to the church itself, which seemingly fails to grasp the community’s anger and horror at its track record of denial, risk minimisation and hushing up of child sex abuse.
Church leaders have said paedophiles are not in the habit of confessing their sins in the confessional which makes the new rule unlikely to identify any offenders.
This may well be true but its refusal to co-operate further damages the institution’s already tattered reputation.
There is no denying that the seal of the confessional is a fundamental aspect of the Catholic faith. But imagine for a moment if another faith – let’s say Islam – wanted to offer its followers the same protection.
Or if another religion ignored Australian laws – such as to allow child marriage or female genital mutilation – on the basis of faith. There would be community outrage.
So why, then, is it acceptable for the Catholic Church to appear to place the protection of abusers as a higher priority than the protection of vulnerable children?
Australia is a secular country.
Since our settlement we have had a reputation as a haven for those of different beliefs, many of whom have been persecuted for belonging to certain religions.
Freedom of religious expression is enshrined in our constitution.
But it does not – and rightly should not – place the views of any one faith above the interests of the nation and its people as a whole.
And certainly not above our children’s right to safety.

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