The Catholic Weekly 29 November 2020

$2 I will not support the Child Services Bill unless special exemptions are made for the Sacrament of Confession” Charles Smith MLC, WA PRIESTS IN WA may soon be forced to break the Seal of Confession in relation to child sexual abuse despite the fact that the WA Parliamentary committee considering draft legislation recommended clergy not be subject to crim- inal sanctions for upholding the sacramental seal. The controversial bill is ex- pected to pass the state’s Up- per House next week. In September the parlia- mentary committee which examined the Children and Community Services Amend- ment Bill 2019 with input from community leaders and abuse survivors said that requiring priests to report information on child sexual abuse gained during confession would be an ineffectivemeasure against abuse. However then-Liberal Op- position Leader Liza Harvey said her party would not sup- port the Committee’s recom- mendation. WA’s Premier Mark Mc- Gowan and Minister for Child Protection Simone McGurk also remain committed to passing the legislation re- quiring priests to break the absolute confidentiality of Confession in known or suspected cases of abuse. But Charles Smith MLC de- scribed the Labor Party’s Chil- dren and Community Servic- es Amendment Bill 2019 as an attack on religious freedom. Mr Smith, a former child protection police officer, told The Record , the publication of the Archdiocese of Perth, that if passed the law would “significantly affect the ability of Catholics within Western Australia to practice their re- ligion”. “Should a Catholic priest choose to disclose content discussed within the Sacra- ment of Confession, he will be excommunicated and will no longer be a priest,” he said. “I am concerned that ene- mies of the Church may take advantage of this new law to entrap or frame Catholic priests.” Mr Smith said he has intro- duced an amendment to Par- liament attempting to ensure the Sacrament of Confession remains intact in WA. “I will not support the Child Services Bill unless spe- cial exemptions are made for the Sacrament of Confession,” he said. Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Coptic Or- thodox priest Father Abram Abdelmalek, representing the Coptic and Oriental Orthodox Churches, appeared at a hear- ing held by the committee on 6 August. Both confirmed “that they support the introduction of mandatory reporting for min- isters of religion, with the ex- ception of the confessional,” the committee noted. Archbishop Costelloe ex- pressed his “sincere belief” that the law would risk mak- ing make the situation worse for present or past abuse vic- tims, as well as make faithful priests “liable to prosecution and conviction as criminals”. WA Seal law looms Parties backpush tobreak Seal of Confession against ParliamentaryCommittee’s recommendation ¾ Staff writers DESPITE VARYING journeys to marriage and motherhood Marthe Azzi, Madeleine Car- rington, Chantal Czeczotko and Angela Chehade have one thing in common as they each pre- pare for the birth of a child in the coming weeks. Each of the women have faced difficulties and some- times even heartbreak along the way, but they say that their faith in God has given them purpose, meaning and courage – and above all, much happiness. They say while life may be no bed of roses, in every circum- stance a child is always a gift to be treasured. Chantel was on materni- ty leave from her teaching job when the pandemic hit, affect- ing her husband Piotr’s employ- ment as a drilling engineer. “It’s going to be a bit of a pinch financially, but my cous- in’s wife uses this saying that with every child comes a loaf of bread and somehow you man- age,” Chantel said. “I love that part in the Bi- ble when Jesus says to look at the birds and the grass in the fields, how God takes care of them, how much more will he take care of you, a human being?” FULL STORY - PAGE 4 ¾ Marilyn Rodrigues Life’s beautiful when baby’s in the picture 29, November, 2020 PARISH HONOURS ST PADRE PIO P3 M arthe Azzi, Madeleine Carrington, Chantel Czeczotko and Angela Chehade are looking forward to the Mass for Expectant Mothers on 12 December. PHOTO: G PORTELLI THE PERSECUTION OF GEORGE PELL P14