Waleed Aly and Lisa Wilkinson go head-to-head in passionate disagreement on The Project

1 min read

"You can’t let it continue"

Wednesday night's episode of The Project took a tense turn after the panel began discussing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. 

Hosts Waleed Aly and Lisa Wilkinson were discussing the option of having laws changed so priests are legally obliged to report confessions of abuse – with the threat of a $10,000 fine for failing to follow through – and the pair came to something of an impasse.

The conversation kicked off with Wilkinson sharing that for her, the choice to introduce new laws was a "no-brainer", arguing that the situation is a “matter of urgency”

Aly, however, wasn't convinced that this option will be the one that actually achieves change in the church. While he agreed that the problem needs to be adressed, he felt that priests will be too committed to their faith to actually abide by these laws. 

“I’m not a Catholic. I have no interest in defending the confession or the institution of the confession or whatever, but breaking the seal of confession for them — not for me or you, but for them — is an excommunicable offence. It means eternal damnation for them,” he said.

“So now you are giving them a choice between eternal damnation or a $10,000 fine. I just can’t see any of them making the decision to avoid a $10,000 fine for the sake of that.”

"But it removes the perpetrator's chance of absolution," Wilkinson argued.

“But it doesn’t, because if the priest believes enough to be a priest and cares about the confessional seal they’ve already said they will maintain that seal,” Aly responded.

“But what’s the alternative? You can’t let it continue, the Church has been a rule unto itself … if altar boys in particular are seen as prey for priests then we have to step in and in a major way,” Wilkinson went on to say.

To which, Aly replied:

“Stepping in in a major way is fine, but that doesn’t mean that every form of stepping in will work. … I get the appeal of legislating for that, but I can’t imagine the scenario in my head where it works.” 

Check out the full debate below:

Image: Network Ten

Written By Stephanie Nuzzo
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