August 26, 2017 – By Catholic News Agency
An Australian priest has called the Royal Commission’s recent proposal to enforce law requiring that clergy face criminal charges if they do not disclose details of sexual abuse revealed in the confessional a breach of religious tolerance. Fr. Kelvin Lovegrove, Episcopal Vicar for Clergy in the Archdiocese of Sydney, told CNA Aug. 24 that he was “surprised” by the suggestion made by the Royal Commission that priests be forced “to break the law in regard to the Seal of Confession.”
“Australia is religiously tolerant country, and many people have emigrated to Australia from other countries so that they can freely practice their faith,” he said, calling the proposal “an intrusion by the Government into the realm of the spiritual relationship between priest and penitent, which up until has been sacrosanct.”
He said the proposal is out of step with expectations for others who maintain similar confidential relationships, noting that “other professionals such as psychologists, lawyers and journalists are not required to break confidences in regard to confidential information between them and their clients.”
Fr. Lovegrove’s comments come less than two weeks after Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, established in 2013, on Aug. 14 released a sweeping 85 proposed changes to the country’s criminal justice system.
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