Parliament to Discuss Confessional Confidentiality

ABC [Australia]
September 17, 2003

South Australian priests may be legally compelled to tell police of child abuse that they learn about in the confessional under laws being introduced to State Parliament today.

Priests and church workers are currently exempt from mandatory reporting laws relating to child sexual abuse, and Independent MP Nick Xenophon says it is time for that to change.

Mr Xenophon says the confessional should not provide a refuge for paedophiles.

And he says Reverend Don Owers, the priest who this year exposed abuse in the Anglican church, is supporting the move.

"His view is that confessionals ought not to be exempted. I respect his views, there ought to be a community debate about this.

"And I believe that Parliament should consider whether the confessional should be overridden. I believe it should be because the interests of children should be paramount in any consideration," Mr Xenophon said.


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