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Australian lawmaker takes aim at confessional seal

July 21, 2011

An Australian lawmaker—picking up a suggestion that has been advanced by the Irish government—has suggested the priests should be required to report sexual abuse even if they learn about it in the confessional.

Senator Nick Xenophon recommended a change in the law that recognizes the confessional seal. “There is no contest when it comes to protecting the innocence of a child or maintaining a religious practice,” he said.


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  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Jul. 22, 2011 8:13 AM ET USA

    Also, a good priest would tell a penitent who has reported child molestation to make reparation by turning himself in.

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Jul. 22, 2011 8:12 AM ET USA

    I take it from this senator's name that he is likely of Greek Orthodox background, so he -- like us Catholics -- would know about the seal of confession. It's one thing to advocate tighter reporting of sexual abuse but it's another thing to compromise the seal of confession.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jul. 21, 2011 8:30 PM ET USA

    What a lout. Leave theology, religious freedom and the rest out of it entirely. Also the fact that penitents are anonymous. If the law says priests must report penitents who confess to molesting children, how many child molesters will confess that they molested children?