SA clergy confession laws to be tightened

South Australia’s new mandatory reporting requirements for clergy will be toughened under legislation introduced to state parliament.

SA laws due to be enacted in October will require priests who hear a confession of child abuse to report it to police.

But SA-BEST spokeswoman Connie Bonaros said a clause in the legislation means the requirement could be reversed by the government of the day.

“It beggars belief that the exemption was part of the original legislation in the first place, so SA-BEST has introduced a bill to close the loophole as soon as possible,” Ms Bonaros said on Tuesday.

“As a community, we simply and morally cannot allow a possible exception for priests to avoid the obligation to report suspicions of child abuse made at confession.”

Ms Bonaros said the case of notorious paedophile priest Michael McArdle supported the need for reform.

McArdle admitted to more than 1500 instances of child sexual abuse and was jailed for six years in 2004.

“McArdle told no less than 30 different priests of his insidious offending, yet not one chose to break ranks, not one chose to protect children over the church,” Ms Bonaros said.

© AAP 2018

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