'Priests should never keep paedophile confessions secret'

PRIESTS who take the confession of a paedophile should not have the power to withhold the information from police, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell told state parliament on Tuesday.

The Catholic premier publicly denounced comments made by Sydney Archbishop George Pell that admissions from one priest to another would remain within the bonds of the confessional.

Mr O'Farrell said while he was raised a Catholic and respected the church's practices, he struggled to understand how a priest could know about child sex abuse and believe "this information should not be brought to police".

He also called on the Catholic hierarchy to hand over an internal report into child sex abuse claims which was reportedly withheld from authorities.

Describing paedophilia as "one of the greatest evils in any society" Mr O'Farrell said the NSW Government would fully co-operate with the Royal Commission.

He congratulated Hunter Valley whistleblower, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, on having the "courage" to reveal that an investigation into the cover-up of child abuse within the region's clergy had allegedly been "taken out of his hands" by senior police.

Asked if the NSW State Government would continue with plans to launch an independent inquiry into child abuse in the Catholic Church, Mr O'Farrell said he had no intention of overlapping with the Federal Government's Royal Commission as long as Det Chief Insp Peter Fox's claims were addressed.

He also vowed to protect whistleblowers and said he would ensure Det Chief Insp Fox was not "bullied" or sent to a remote posting like "Broken Hill" as punishment for speaking out.



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