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This October, a law will go into effect in South Australia requiring priests to report confessions of child abuse to the authorities. But last week, Bishop Greg O’Kelly, the Acting Archbishop of Adelaide, said he would defy the law because sacred confessions mattered more to him than secular law.

That’s the same sort of attitude that led to widespread abuse within the Catholic Church. Secrets that put lives in danger shouldn’t be kept confidential. That applies to teachers, social workers, and religious leaders.

These Catholic priests are just looking for a new way to cover up abuse.

Charlie Pickering doesn’t want to let them get away with it. The popular host of The Weekly delivered a brief rant last night condemning the priests’ attitude. It was light on jokes but that hardly matters given the importance of what he said:

YouTube video

Before we go tonight, a story that didn’t get a lot of attention this week. In response to the Royal Commission, South Australia has announced plans for a law forcing priests to report confessions of child abuse to the police.

But remarkably, the acting Archbishop of Adelaide, Greg O’Kelly, responded this week by stating that the Church intended to break the law, saying politicians can change the law, but it doesn’t affect the church.

So here we have a religious organization saying publicly, with a straight face, that it considers itself above the law.

Now Greg, seen here on his Twitter profile having literally lost his flock, is the acting archbishop because his predecessor was convicted of covering up child abuse. O’Kelly said the seal of confession is sacred. Well, it is a sacred seal the Church has used to protect serial child abusers who landed them in the Royal Commission in the first place.

Like Rockhampton priest Father Michael McArdle, who confessed 1,500 times to molesting children, to 30 different priests, over a 25-year period. He was forgiven 1,500 times and told merely to go home and pray.

That, according to the Church, is sacred. And none of our business.

The church is fine with laws that protect it from paying tax but refuses to abide a law designed to protect innocent children from abuse.

If O’Kelly has his way, victims could be left without proper justice while abusers are able to alleviate their guilt and shame. Rather than protecting victims from predators, they are protecting the predators and doing it in God’s name.

I’m not allowed to say on TV what I think of O’Kelly because I am subject to the law. Maybe I should swing by his confessional, because apparently there, I can get away with anything.

Good night.

If you do the math, confessing to molestation 1,500 times in 25 years comes out to just over once a week. That’s the sort of secret Greg O’Kelly thinks is worth protecting. And if kids suffer as a result, I guess he thinks God won’t mind since the ritual was obeyed.

If O’Kelly thinks Catholic dogma overrides secular law, he should complain to the Vatican about changing the irrational confessional rule instead of whining about the people looking out for the best interests of children.

(Thanks to Ross and Phil for the link)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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