News National Catholic leaders seek Malcolm Turnbull’s intervention over confessional laws
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Catholic leaders seek Malcolm Turnbull’s intervention over confessional laws

child abuse confessional laws
The prime minister will hear from three senior Catholic clerics on the child abuse royal commission. Photo: AAP
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Catholic leaders will seek intervention from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull amid concerns of possible new laws forcing the disclosure of information provided in the confessional.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge and  incoming Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli are expected to raise concerns over the push to end the sanctity of the confessional when they meet the PM in Sydney later Thursday.

The meeting comes after a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to add religious ministers to the mandatory reporting regime of sexual abuse.

Catholic priests, however, have previously said they are not willing to break the seal of confession to report child sex abuse, and would rather go to jail than abide by the law.

All states are expected to go ahead with laws to force Catholic priests to break the seal of confession, after the Victorian state Labor government on Wednesday released its response to the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, accepting in full or in principle 293 of the 409 recommendations.

The federal government has accepted in principle a recommendation that seeks to add religious ministers to the mandatory reporting regime.

A recommendation about reporting what is said in the confessional is one of 24 being considered further.

Catholic educators are also concerned non-government schools are starting term three with no idea about how much funding they would receive from the Turnbull government in 2019.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has promised all school sectors would enjoy “absolute certainty” of funds in the future.

The minister is consulting with the sector on a new funding model following a report released by the National School Resourcing Board two weeks ago into socio-economic status (SES) scores.

SES scores allow governments to provide the greatest support to those non-government school communities which have the least capacity to contribute to their school fees.

The board has recommended moving from a SES score based on Census districts to assess family income, occupation and educational status, to a more direct measure of family income.

At the same time, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission is reviewing the charitable status of Catholic Education Melbourne over claims it engaged in political activities, such as robocalls and leaflet drops, during the Batman by-election.

-with AAP

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