An Australian inquiry into child abuse on Friday recommended that the Catholic Church lift its demand of celibacy from clergy and that priests be prosecuted for failing to report evidence of pedophilia heard in the confessional. Australia's Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its final 17-volume report and 189 recommendations following a wide-ranging investigation. Australia's longest-running royal commission—which is the country's highest form of inquiry—has been investigating since 2012 how the Catholic Church and other institutions responded to sexual abuse of children in Australia over 90 years, the AP reports.
The report heard the testimonies of more than 8,000 survivors of child sex abuse. Of those who were abused in religious institutions, 62% were Catholic. "We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades," the report said. Recommendations include that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference request that the Vatican making clergy celibacy voluntary instead of mandatory. The bishops' body should also request clarity on whether information received in the confessional that a child has been sexually abused is covered by the seal of secrecy, the report said. The commission recommended making failure to report child sexual abuse a crime. Clerics would not be exempt from being charged.
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