Religious Freedom For Child Abusers

Mike Luckovich Atlanta Journal-Constitution(2/25/02)

Sex abuse protection racket to continue as Catholic clergy refuse to obey the law.

The Roman Church expects that the federal governments proposed “religious freedom” laws will deliver them the freedom to ignore the laws recently passed in Victoria and Tasmania.

This would leave them free to carry on concealing abuse and protecting and supporting abusers.

Church Defiant

Victoria and Tasmania now require clergy to report crimes – including child sex abuse – they learn of during Confession. But the clergy will not.

Tasmanian Roman Catholic Archbishop Porteous doesn’t think the clergy will need to obey the law or suffer any consequences for flouting it. He expects the Prime Minister to hand the church a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card”

The Archbishop said he thought the new state laws seemed at odds with the Federal Government’s push to introduce a religious discrimination act.

Melbourne Archbishop Comensoli also said the clergy would not obey the Victorian law.

Politicians Respond

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stood firm.

“I’ve made it very clear that the law of our state is written by the Parliament of Victoria, it’s not made in Rome and there are very significant penalties for anybody and everybody who breaks the Victorian law,” the Premier said.

Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer said:

“There is no excuse for failure to report the horrific abuse of children, least of all for institutions who have been named by the Royal Commission as failing to prevent child abuse in the past,” she said.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)