Australian Values

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You could have predicted two of the principal recommendations about the Catholic Church of the Australian Royal Commission on child abuse. They repeat generations of Protestant prejudice against the Church. From lurid nineteenth century tales of the evils of the confessional to sub-Freudian suspicions of clerical celibacy, the two principal recommendations continue a great tradition.

Much is wrong with Catholic structures in dealing with clerical offences of all types. But there is no evidence that abandonment of the seal of the confessional would protect children; nor (as the Commission itself admits) is there any evidence that celibacy results in paedophilia.

The authorities of the Church in Australia will do well to resist pressure for change, even though (equally predictably) the Anglican Church of Australia has already relaxed its confessional policy.

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