News

Priests should not break 'sacred' Seal of Confession: Bishop

A CATHOLIC bishop says priests who hear the confessions of paedophiles have the option of urging the "criminals to turn themselves in" or refusing them forgiveness, but should not break the "sacred" Seal of Confession.

The Most Reverend Anthony Fisher, who is the Bishop of Parramatta, wrote to members of the diocese this week after Prime Minister Julia Gillard called for a royal commission into child abuse.

Child abuse across a range of institutions will be the subject of the royal commission, not just the Catholic Church.

There have been calls for priests who hear the confessions of paedophiles to appear before the royal commission.

It was a suggestion rejected by the head of the Catholic Church in Australia Cardinal George Pell.

"The Seal of Confession is inviolable," Cardinal Pell said.

It was a sentiment echoed by Rev Fisher in his message, although he was more expansive.

"If someone is abusing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a priest may refuse to hear their confession or refuse them absolution; he may also rebuke those whose sins are grave and bid criminals turn themselves in," Rev Fisher wrote.

"But no priest will break the sacred Seal of Confession between God and the penitent."

Rev Fisher also welcomed Ms Gillard's decision to call the royal commission, adding the sexual abuse of children was to be "condemned in the strongest possible terms".

He assured followers the church "put victims first" in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse.

"I know I speak for our entire Catholic community when I say that our hearts go out to the victims of child sexual abuse, the 'little ones' whom Christ most loves, and to their families," he wrote.

"I want to assure you, as I did in my pastoral letter of two months ago, that we now have in place a rigorous process for dealing with complaints of abuse and that we work closely with police and other authorities.

"With the help of this royal commission and other independent inquiries we hope to learn new ways of ensuring that every child is safe in the future and that victims of past offences are assisted."

He also made reference to the fact two educators from within the Parramatta Diocese had been charged with child sex offences in recent times.

"I know this has been upsetting for many of you; it certainly has been for me. This is truly a time in 'the valley of tears' for the Church in Australia," he wrote.

Topics:  child abuse, paedophile




Can you see why this bikini pic has gone viral?

What's so strange about these girls in bikinis?

Sex 'predator' hid upskirt footage in a sock

New Zealand national used videos to satisfy his sexual urges

Latest deals and offers

Babylon 5's Jerry Doyle has died

Jerry Doyle has died from unknown causes at the age of 60

Mum driver heroically ignores hilarious lip-syncing son

Hilarious moves while Mum concentrates on the road.

IF IT takes a village to raise a child, why aren't they driving?

Twitter adds dancing David Brent emoji

Ricky Gervais's character has its own emoji now

Cyndi Lauper opens up about mother's dementia

Cyndi Lauper says her mother Catrine has "a little dementia".

What's on this weekend

Join in the fun of the annual Park2Park races at Limestone Park on Sunday, and help the Ipswich Hospital Foundation raise money for youth mental health services.

Park2Park, Park Jam, the Sydney Comedy Festival and much more

Lindsay Lohan 'calls off engagement'

Lohan reportedly called off her engagement to Russian millionaire

Australia Post to open at Orion

Australia Post.

Service to open to customers in late August

Town with 'unique country flair' will be ruined: resident

Jonathan Emms of Rosewood is concerned about a proposed townhouse development for this John Street block of land.

Residents concerned by high density development proposal

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb