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Is it time to apply mandatory reporting to priests?

“If you’re referring to the seal of the confessional, that’s non-negotiable,” he said.

The ABC’s Q&A is no stranger to controversy — but one particular question on last night’s show raised some eyebrows.

The show’s host Virginia Trioli asked what a priest should do when a parishioner walks into confession after being attacked by her husband.

According to Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge, the “sacred bond” between priest and parishioner appears to mean a priest has no obligation to report domestic violence.

Specifically, he insisted that the confidential “seal of the confessional” was “non-negotiable.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane on Q&A last night.

The discussion around the church and domestic violence began innocently enough, with Archbishop Coleridge acknowledging that the church had a part to play in tackling domestic violence.

“This is a community responsibility including the church’s,” Coleridge – who is the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane – said.

Coleridge also acknowledged that for too long, domestic violence remained hidden and dismissed by authorities.

“It was one of those things, like the abuse of the young, that went on behind closed doors…  it was a cone of silence, ‘it happened in the family home, let it be’,” he said.

“Well, those days are gone.”

Related: The red flags of domestic violence, according to Rosie Batty.

That’s when acting Q&A host Virginia Trioli stepped in, asking him whether the Catholic church needed to take responsibility for turning a bling eye to family violence for so long.

“Archbishop can I jump in there?,” she said.

“I was raised Catholic and in a very strong Catholic parish, and it seems to me that the issue – like clerical sexual abuse of children – that the issue of family violence was one that perhaps the priests also turned a blind eye to, didn’t speak up on, and perhaps that was an issue they could haven’t spoken out but didn’t speak out.

“Is that something the church needs to reflect on, and needs to wonder about the role they played?”

Is that something the church needs to reflect on, and needs to wonder about hte role they played?”

“Maybe, yes,” the Archbishop confessed.

“The church has to reflect on it. And if they were turning a blind eye, it was following suit with the whole society, which has for a very long time known that this has gone on and turned a blind eye,” he said.

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Trioli asked: “As a priest, don’t you see that you have a greater moral obligation to the truth and to wider society than to that private seal?”

But Trioli pressed the point – asking the Archbishop to confirm whether “the secret of that seal [of confidentiality] between priest and parisioner” had to be broken when it came to the issue of family violence.

“It really is the case now that… the nature of that privacy, the secret of that seal between priest and parisioner, that’s broken for all time now, isn’t it?,” she asked.

“As a priest, don’t you see that you have a greater moral obligation to the truth and to wider society than to that private seal?

Related: Virginia Trioli: ‘I have never seen such hatred in my career’.

“Absolutely ,” the Archbishop replied. “But there’s a still a sacred bond between priest and people. You know, I could talk at great length about that.”

“But if you’re referring to the seal of the confessional, that’s non-negotiable. Because at that point, what’s going in is something between that person — the penitent– and God.”

Trioli pressed him, asking: “And when that person walks into a confessional and she has a black eye, what then?”

He responded: “I would say, I’ll talk to her afterwards, and see what needs to be done.”

We’re keen to hear your thoughts on this one. Should priests, like health professionals, have an obligation to report abuse to authorities?

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