In Australia, a royal commission charged with reviewing child abuse has released a damning report on child sexual abuse:
A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused in schools, religious organizations and other institutions.
The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals. It also urged Australia’s Roman Catholic leadership to press Rome to end mandatory celibacy for priests.
“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,” said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. “We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”
The bomb shell is that they are recommending that the church end priestly celibacy, and to report to law enforcement child abuse admitted in confession:
Delving into sensitive territory for the Catholic Church, the report recommended that clergy be required to report suspected abuse that they hear in the confessional booth. Church officials, however, argue that confidentiality is integral to the ritual, and Archbishop Hart took issue with the proposal.
I rather imagine that there are a whole bunch of folks at the Vatican reading this report, and its recommendations, and they are banging their heads against their monitors.
Notwithstanding Pope Francis’s moves toward greater inclusion and economic activism, these two recommendations will clearly a bridge too far for him.