The Catholic Church says it is considering a High Court challenge to a new law just passed by the Queensland Parliament requiring priests to report real or suspected cases of child abuse uncovered in the confessional.
The new laws mean priests in Queensland will be compelled to break the seal of confession to report allegations of child sexual abuse or face a maximum penalty of three years in jail.
The Catholic Church in Queensland lobbied against the proposed new law and Brisbane Archbishop, Mark Coleridge, is believed to have authorised church lawyers to prepare a High Court challenge.
A Catholic Church spokesperson, Fr Ivor Dickinson (main picture), said the Archbishop stood by his view that breaking the sacred seal of the confessional seal would not make a difference to the safety of young people.
“His Grace maintains that this type of legislation makes the priest less a servant of God than an agent of the state,” Fr Dickinson said.
“The church rejects claims that the seal of the confessional helps in the cover-up of abuse but is instead the guarantee of a culture of true disclosure which is the opposite of cover-up.
“We believe that on any measure the church has a solid track record in the area of child abuse and we don’t need these type of laws telling us what to do.
“I think the general community knows that when it comes to child sexual abuse the church and its priests know exactly what to do,” Fr Dickinson.