Catholic priest 'confessed 1,500 times to abusing children', victim says mandatory reporting could have saved him

Nov 2005
A former altar boy who was allegedly sexually abused by a serial paedophile priest says he could have been spared if the Catholic Church enforced mandatory reporting of crimes admitted in the confessional.

By the time Father Michael McArdle allegedly targeted the then-12-year-old for oral sex, he had already been molesting children for a decade.

The abuse lasted for several months at the sacristy and presbytery of the Holy Rosary Church in Bundaberg, as well as during an overnight school camp, legal documents allege.

"It's always in the back of your mind," Greg* said.

"A couple of years ago I had a mental breakdown, I wanted to kill myself.

"But I've come through it — I think."

Greg launched legal action in August against the Diocese of Rockhampton for the mental toll the abuse has taken on him, with his lawyers lodging a notice of claim for the civil suit.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Jed McNamara, who is representing Greg, said an affidavit filed by McArdle in 2004 revealed he confessed 1,500 times to 30 different priests over a 25-year period.

McArdle, who resigned from the priesthood in 2000, was jailed in 2004 for six years for 62 indecent dealing charges against 14 boys and two girls over a 22-year period from 1965 in regional Catholic parishes across Queensland.

Mr McNamara said his client would be seeking to negotiate a settlement of the case for the psychological injury he suffered.

"If there were not recommendations (from the royal commission) for reporting of abuse then that enabled that abuse to reoccur and reoccur and reoccur — case in point, McArdle," he said.
"For the better part of a decade before he abused my client ... [McArdle] would confess, would be absolved, would go back out, would repeat that offending behaviour, would go back to confession and the cycle continued."

Psychologists / Mental Health practitioners have doctor / patient confidentiality, but even then they are required to report if they see a danger of harm being committed.
Laws in all 50 states require a therapist to contact authorities if a patient is a danger to him/herself, to others, and/or if the therapist suspects that a known child is being abused.​
The doctor / patient confidentiality is established for the helping to make the doctor / patient relationship as a trusted one to help further the healing process. (i.e. interests of the patient)

Religion has clergy-penitent privilege. But why are they similarly not required to report if they see a danger of harm being committed?

Is it out of concern for the "penitent"? Perhaps we have an interest in protecting the pedophile from being at risk for future child rapes? #sarcasm
Is it out of concern for the pastor / priest? If it is, should it be? Should we have concerns for the pastor / priest which supercede the concerns for the child molestation victim?

Consider the whole Catholic priest child molestation scandal. Statistics demonstrate that child molestation in the Catholic church occurred at the same rate as other professions. It wasn't a higher rate that made it a "scandal".
Rather, the Catholic church hierarchy ACTIVELY COVERED UP the child molestation problem to protect their own image. They established a pattern of paying off the victims, moving the child rapist to another parish and the problem started up again.
If this were any other profession, this would incur charges of AIDING AND ABETTING.
But religion is given a pass.
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