Reason Leader and Member for Northern Metropolitan Region, Fiona Patten, is calling for the Government’s support to create greater transparency within the Catholic Church – both socially and financially.
Ms Patten said she was committed to removing the confessional seal to make reporting of child sex abuse mandatory, as well as putting a stop to tax avoidance by religious run businesses.
This comes as Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, 77, was sentenced to six years in prison today, after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two choirboys while he was the archbishop of Melbourne in 1990s.
“The Catholic Church has always thought it was above the law and a law unto itself, but this court case has proven that they are not, in the most dramatic way,” Ms Patten said from outside the County Court after the sentencing this morning.
“This is why the Reason Party has been calling for religious transparency for so long. But our concerns were ignored by the likes of Cardinal Pell more than 20 years ago.”
Ms Patten said she would lobby to ensure priests were forced to report individuals that confess to child abuse crimes, as well as cracking down on for-profit businesses taking advantage of tax exemptions.
“We cannot allow churches to continue protecting individuals at the expense of our children’s safety and wellbeing. It is horrific to place the value of confessional privacy above the wellbeing of our children,” she said.
“And, the so-called advancement of religion as a charitable status and its tax exemption must stop. Profitable businesses making lots of money should pay their fair share of tax, just like the rest of us.
“Giving tax concessions to already wealthy religious businesses like Catholic Insurance sends a message to the community that the religious ideology behind these businesses is so morally superior that we have to put them above secular small businesses. Today’s sentencing of George Pell clearly shows that this is not the case.”
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To organise an interview with Fiona Patten, please phone Kaitlin Bartlett directly.
Media Contact: Kaitlin Bartlett
Phone: 0432 294 500