The Catholic Church in Australia has rejected new laws that would force its clergy to report child abuse when they learn about it in Confession. The church is facing sexual-abuse crises in several countries, with Pope Francis personally accused of covering up reports of misconduct. Two of Australia’s eight states and territories have introduced laws making it a crime for priests to withhold information about abuse heard in the confessional—others have said they are considering their response. “This proposed law is ill-conceived, and impracticable, it won’t make children safer, and it will most likely undermine religious freedom,” Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President Mark Coleridge told reporters. The rejection sets up a showdown between the country’s biggest religion and the government.
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