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.”
Ronald Mulkearns, Bishop of Ballarat – Australia
Money received from the estate of an Australian Roman Catholic bishop is going to be given to victims of abuse.
Ronald Mulkearns, who was the Bishop of Ballarat until 1997, died in April, leaving an estate of over two million dollars.
He left his house and other funds to the Church. Mulkearns was accused of being slow to respond to incidents of abuse in his diocese, while there were also reports that he moved priests from post to post rather than reporting them to the authorities. Just before his death, he apologised when appearing before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse…
The depth of the abuse scandal in the Ballarat area has shocked Australian churchgoers. Meanwhile, Victoria police said last month that they haven’t ruled out the possibility of charging the most senior Church figure in the country – Cardinal George Pell.