Last November Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart ordered Catholic schools to conduct confessions - quote - "in an open setting in the full view of all participants, who are supervised by staff", this way putting into question the use of confessionals in order to allegedly protect the safety of the children.
In February, all five Australian metropolitan Archbishops told the federal child abuse royal commission, that they would endorse a national standard that removed the use of confessionals for children.
As a result Fr John O'Connor is under fire for continuing to use the confessional for his parish school in Yarraville. He argues that this does not violate Archbishop Hart's call, as the child's door remains open, allowing for teacher supervision.
Canon Law requires that confessions are heard in "confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor". Gloria.tv finds it difficult to understand how such a setting could endanger anybody's sexual integrity. Nevertheless, so-called child safety experts are asking to do away with confessionals altogether.
Australian Childhood Foundation's chief executive Joe Tucci said to The Age, "I do believe that we should be encouraging and modelling to children that anything that promotes secrecy isn't a helpful orientation."
Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of Blue Knot Foundation, which supports child abuse victims, claimed that the confessional was a - quote - "closed dark space" even if its door was open and, "A lot of work is being done to make institutions and all aspects of institutions safe for children, where there can be transparency and visibility, and this would appear to be flying completely in the face of that."