Archbishop Denis Hart is talking nonsense on marriage equality and child abuse

Sunday Herald Sun

KATIE BICE, Sunday Herald Sun

THE Archbishop of Melbourne is doing the Catholic Church and its followers a disservice. In the past fortnight, Denis Hart has made his views known on two controversial issues and at least once, arguably twice, has been grossly out of step with community expectations.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released a report with 85 recommendations, including that priests be forced to report details of child sex abuse made in confession. It urged criminal charges against priests who failed to do so, saying there should be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for those who fail to comply. Hart, however, believes confessions should be respected: “Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest,” he stated. “It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion. Outside of this, all offences against children must be reported to the authorities and we are absolutely committed to doing so.”

I don’t profess to have ever met or had a conversation with God, but I’m going to take a stab and say he’s no fan of child molesters. And you’d think the leaders of a body that oversaw one of the greatest human tragedies outside war time would listen to and accept any recommendations to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

And Hart’s stance seems to go against what he says on another issue riling the Catholic Church, same-sex marriage. Last week he issued a public letter cautioning that any change to marriage legislation would threaten the “health and future of our society”. Part of the public letter read: “Yes, human rights are important. But so are human responsibilities. We are responsible for the impact of our decisions on future generations.”

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