Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli is seeking to uphold the seal of confession
Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli is seeking to uphold the seal of confession

Victorian clergy pressured to report abuse

PRIESTS will be compelled to break the seal of the confessional and report admissions of child abuse under news laws being introduced in Victoria.

The laws, introduced into parliament on Wednesday, will make religious ministries mandatory reporters of abuse suspicions, alongside police, teachers, medical practitioners and early childhood workers.

"It's pretty simple: if you think a child is being abused, you have to report it," Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said in a statement.

"We're committed to driving this cultural change to make Victoria safer for our children."

The laws were a bi-partisan promise ahead of last year's state election.

But while both sides of politics agree, the Catholic Church says it will uphold the confessional.

"I am strongly committed to reporting to the appropriate authorities, and have already exercised that duty here in Melbourne. I am also strongly committed to upholding the seal of confession," Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli wrote in a pastoral letter in August last year when the laws were first flagged.

The Children Legislation Amendment Bill will also limit the right of appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal of murderers, rapists and other criminals rejected for working with children checks.


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