By Victor Ochieng
A high ranking Catholic official has said he’d rather be locked up in prison than report a pedophilia case to the police. By just reading that, you may be tempted to think that this is just about any person, but for your information, the person who said that is the highest-ranking Catholic clergy in Australia.
Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has made it clear that he’s ready to go to jail for not exposing pedophilia priests.
That came as a shocking statement, especially when cases of priests being accused of s*xually abusing minors is on the rise. Hart was making the statement while responding to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child S*xual Abuse. The commission clearly stated that institutions shouldn’t protect pedophiles and that those who fail to alert the police shouldn’t be given any form of “protection or privilege.”
According to Hart, s*xual abuse was “a spiritual encounter with God through the priest” and was “of a higher order” that the man formulated criminal laws.
In a move to tame priests involved in child s*xual abuse cases, the commission proposed 85 far-reaching changes to the country’s criminal justice system and made a clear recommendation that any priest who fails to report serious crimes such as s*xual abuse should be held accountable.
In its current state, the law states that the clergy isn’t under any obligation to report criminal acts committed by members of the Catholic Church and that such issues are to be dealt with under the church’s Canon law, which is a distinct procedure from the regular legal process.
According to an investigation report released by the commission, they believe that Catholic Church officials are taking advantage of “confessional confidentiality” as their guard against failure to report child molestation cases to the law enforcement.
“We understand the significance of religious confession – in particular, the inviolability of the confessional seal to people of some faiths, particularly the Catholic faith”, said the report. “However, we heard evidence of a number of instances where disclosures of child s*xual abuse were made in religious confession, by both victims and perpetrators.”
The commission further noted that the Catholic Church members and the clergy are basically using the confession forum as a way to deal with their own guilt and avoid being rebuked when their sins are eventually uncovered.
Asked whether he’d rather go to prison than break his church’s seal of confession, the Archbishop responded, saying, “I’ve said that I would. I believe that this is an absolutely sacrosanct communication of a higher order.”