Prelate fronts Western Australia inquiry

Catholic Weekly – Archdiocese of Sydney

August 6, 2020

By Marilyn Rodrigues

Scrapping the seal impossible and could cause harm

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has appeared before a WA parliamentary committee to defend the seal of confession in the Catholic Church as essential to the practice of the faith.

He was joined by Coptic Orthodox priest Father Abram Abdelmalek representing the Coptic and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Archbishop Costelloe, who has also lodged a written submission to the committee’s inquiry into proposed changes to the state’s child protection laws, said he supported priests being mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse, but that the obligation should not be expanded to include information gained by clergy during the sacrament of confession.

No matter how well-intended, the proposed legislation would not make children and young people any safer and may in fact, given the inviolable trust in the confidentiality of the confessional, “make the situation worse for young people who are experiencing abuse or for older people who are seeing to address the abuse they suffered as a child”, he told the standing committee on legislation chaired by Dr Sally Talbot on 6 August.

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