Reuters--San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 1997
Catholic priests face restraints under new plan in Australia
SYDNEY-- Catholic priests in Australia should not be left alone with children and glass windows should be installed in church confessionals to prevent pedophile scandals, according to a draft code of conduct for priests.
The Catholic Church plan, announced Thursday, effectively bans priests from seeing children alone.
"It's about reducing risks--preventing environments from being created where abuse can occur and reducing risk of false allegations being made against clergy," said the Rev. David Cappo, head of the church's professional standards committee.
"We are looking at guidelines for clergy that will make us all more accountable," Cappo said. "If you are counseling a child then you do not do it alone or behind a closed door."
Under the draft code, confessionals should have glass viewing panels, a move which would force the renovation of virtually every Catholic church in the country. The plan will be voted on next year by the Catholic Church in Australia.
All Australia's major churches have admitted that their clergy have for decades abused children in their orphanages, churches and schools.
An official report in New South Wales state in August said there was a substantial incidence of sexual abuse in Australian churches, which protected pedophile clergy.