Father Paul Kelly speaks out after the Federal Government announced a royal commission into child sex abuse cases.
Father Paul Kelly speaks out after the Federal Government announced a royal commission into child sex abuse cases. Robyne Cuerel

M'boro priest would break silence to out child sex abusers

MARYBOROUGH priest Paul Kelly says he would break the sacred "seal of silence" and report child sex abusers who confessed to him, despite the threat of excommunication from the Catholic Church for doing so.

Father Kelly's comments come after the Federal Government announced a royal commission into child sex abuse cases, a move which has unearthed concerns about the church directive that priests keep secret all information given in confession.

For a priest to break this code is considered a mortal sin and would see them excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

But Father Kelly, who has also campaigned against the gay panic defence, said he agreed with suggestions the "seal of silence" privilege could be seen to protect child sex offenders.

He admitted he would go against the church by reporting suspects to police.

"I absolutely do not wish to be part of anything which accidentally, or by omission, allows abuse to continue or someone to continue to abuse," Father Kelly said.

"I would have to say, with respect to the law of the land and the church, I must follow what I believe would be my conscience before God.

"In the end, I would stand before God with my conscience."

Only Pope Benedict XVI has the power to change governance of confession and Father Kelly said the time had come for the church to review its stance.


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