Currently, religious ministers are not part of Victoria’s mandatory reporting laws, but that may soon change. The state’s government has vowed to consider dismantling the sanctity of confession as part of its response to the 409 recommendations of Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
If passed, the laws would follow similar legislation enacted by the South Australian government last month, which will see clergy face a $10,000 fine if they fail to report admissions of child sexual abuse made in the confessional.
On Wednesday night’s episode of The Project, Wilkinson said such legislation is a no-brainer.
“There are children, many, many generations of children, who have suffered at the hands of priests who know better,” she said.
But Aly was less convinced.
The 39-year-old academic/writer said he failed to understand how such a law could “actually stop any of this from 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 ex-communicable 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 hit back, arguing that such a law “removes the perpetrator’s chance of absolution”.
“What’s the alternative? You can’t let it continue. The Church has been a rule unto itself, and we have generation after generation of damaged humans. And in the end, if children – if altar boys, in particular – are seen as prey for priests then we have to step in and in a major way,” she said.