Is the Confessional sacrosanct?

In August 2017 the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, said he would risk going to jail rather than report what is said to him in the sacrament of confession, even if what is confessed is related to child sexual abuse. He made those comments in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission relating to the institutional responses to abuse to make the reporting of allegations mandatory, with a failure to report becoming a criminal offence.

Such an approach echoes the views expressed by Cardinal George Pell in 2012 that ‘what’s heard in the confessional stays in the confessional’.

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