Sex abuse scandal leaves Australian Church, gov’t scrambling for solutions

Catholc New Agency

Sept. 25, 2019

In the wake of a major clergy sex abuse scandal and the high-profile, controversial trial and conviction of sex abuse of Cardinal George Pell, government and Church officials in Australia are scrambling for solutions.

Among these proposed or enacted interventions are those that would break with teachings or traditions of the Catholic Church.

One such oft-proposed intervention is the scrapping of the seal of confession, a proposed solution included in the Australian Royal Commission’s report on clergy abuse published last year.

Earlier this month, the Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania passed a law requiring priests to violate the seal of confession if anything in the confession indicated or implicated someone in a case of child sex abuse. The laws add religious leaders to the existing list of mandatory reporters, and failure to report abuse is punishable by time in prison.

Unlike in other countries with similar laws and policies, reports of child abuse made in a sacramental context are no longer exempt and must be reported.

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