The Catholic Church in Australia is protesting against a law which mandates priests to inform the police about admissions of sexual abuse of children.
According to a report in The Straits Times, the priests, who are required to keep confessions secret, have come out against the law saying they would rather go to jail than break the confessional seal.
The law was adopted after a five-year Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, which looked into cases dating back decades, said that the practice of confession had "contributed to both the occurrence of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and to inadequate institutional responses to abuse".
"(Confession) enabled perpetrators to resolve their sense of guilt without fear of being reported," the commission said it ins report.
However, the priests and the Church have not welcomed the report and the law enacted based on the recommendations of the commission.
Father Michael Whelan, a priest from Sydney, has said that he would prefer to go to jail rather than reporting secret confessions.
"The state will be requiring us as Catholic priests to commit what we regard as the most serious crime," he told ABC News. He added that the priests and the Church will resist if the state tries to “intervene on our religious freedom".
"Removing priest-penitent privilege from the law and requiring mandatory reporting of confessions will either have no effect on child safety or will actually make children less safe," Catholic Bishops from around the country said in a letter addressed to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Prime Minister Turnbull has rejected the objection, saying safety of children should take priority over the secrecy of confession.
"Safety of children should always be put first," he has said, adding, "We know, thanks to Commissioners' work, that in far, far too many cases, it wasn't."
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