Australia: Charges For Priests Who Don’t Report Child Abuse?
PRIESTS who fail to tell police about suspected child sexual abuse, even if discovered during religious confession, should face criminal charges, Australia’s most powerful investigative authority recommended yesterday.
The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse recommended national legislation to make it a criminal offence for people to fail to report child sexual abuse in an institutional setting.
Clergy who find out about sexual abuse during a religious confession would not be exempt from the law.
“The right to practise one’s religious beliefs must accommodate civil society’s obligation to provide for the safety of all and, in particular, children’s safety from sexual abuse,” the commission declared.
“Institutions directed to caring for and providing services for children, including religious institutions, must provide an environment where children are safe from sexual abuse.
“Reporting information relevant to child sexual abuse to the police is critical to ensuring the safety of children.”