“For me it’s a no-brainer — there are children, many many many generations of children, who have suffered at the hands of priests who know better,” said Lisa Wilkinson.
But Aly was questioned the law, saying that if priests were required to report confessions of child abuse, it would “actually stop any of this happening”.
“I’m not a Catholic. I have no interest in defending the confession or the institution of the confession or whatever, but breaking the seal of confession for them — not for me or you, but for them — is an excommunicable offence. It means eternal damnation for them,” he said.
“So now you are giving them a choice between eternal damnation or a $10,000 fine. I just can’t see any of them making the decision to avoid a $10,000 fine for the sake of that.”
Wilkinson disagreed, saying it “removes the perpetrator’s chance of absolution”.
To which Aly repiled: “But it doesn’t, because if the priest believes enough to be a priest and cares about the confessional seal they’ve already said they will maintain that seal.”
“But what’s the alternative? You can’t let it continue, the Church has been a rule unto itself … if altar boys in particular are seen as prey for priests then we have to step in and in a major way,” replied Wilkinson.
“Stepping in in a major way is fine, but that doesn’t mean that every form of stepping in will work. … I get the appeal of legislating for that, but I can’t imagine the scenario in my head where it works,” answered Aly.
“I can’t imagine the Church continuing the way it has when we know what we know," said Wilkinson.
Making it mandatory for Catholic priests to report suspicions about abuse or admissions of guilt from church clergy was one of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Which side do you take?