Should Catholic churches post warning signs?

Should Catholic churches post warning signs? October 12, 2019

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This is a proposal in Australia: 

Melbourne City Council member Nic Frances Gilley has introduced a proposal to require Catholic churches to comply with the province of Victoria’s new mandatory abuse reporting laws or have signs posted outside warning parents that the houses of worship might pose a danger to children.

The Age reports that Gilley is requesting the state “write to all churches and places of worship requesting assurances that all staff and associates will abide by the law of mandatory reporting,” and if they do not provide those assurances the state should erect appropriate signage.

In September, Victoria passed the Children Legislation Amendment Act 2019, which added religious leaders to the list of individuals who are legally mandated to report child abuse to the authorities when they learn about it. That list already included police, teachers, nurses, midwives and other occupations.

Many Catholic leaders are protesting the law because it includes abuse admitted within the space of the confessional. In July, the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary released a statement pushing back against it, saying that “Any political action or legislative initiative aimed at breaking the inviolability of the sacramental seal would constitute an unacceptable offence against the (freedom of the Church).”

Gilley said it was the government’s responsibility to “clearly advise people of the risks of using such institutions.”

Councilor Gilley has a personal stake in this conversation. He was an Anglican priest for 23 years, rising to the position of executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. He left the church in 2008, penning an open letter in which he revealed that he was sexually abused as a child.

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp supports the resolution. She told Radio 3AW “Our main aim is to make sure we have safe places, particularly for children, throughout our city.”

Read on


I don’t know how things are in Australia, but in the United States one of the safest places for a child today is, in fact, in a Catholic church. The safeguards that have been put into place are among the most stringent anywhere.  The idea that children are at risk simply because an institution is Catholic is one of many myths urgently in need of being debunked.

Psychology Today has done just that. Read all about it. 

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