Bishop says the Catholic Church should consider ordaining women.
Ballarat bishop Paul Bird one of Victoria’s most senior priests says the Catholic Church should consider ordaining women.
Ballarat bishop Paul Bird said today a lack of women in the church may have contributed to the widespread abuse of children.
He told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that the issue should be revisited.
“If we looked at the possible negative effects of not including women, then that would add to the reason for the discussion,” he said.
“If we see that as a difficulty in having the church really balanced as a community, and with a recognition that perhaps in some cases that very imbalance...was a contributing factor to some crimes...then that would be all the more reason.”
Bishop Bird said he had no theological problem with the idea of female priests.
“Essentially I don’t have scriptural problems with that,”he said.
“It’s basically I think within the Catholic Church the force of basically 2000 years of tradition which would be rather slow in changing I think.”
But while calling for discussions that could bring radical change, Bishop Bird said confessions should stay strictly private.
He said if a crime was confessed to him, including child sexual abuse, he would not pass it on to police.
Bishop Bird said instead he would tell the confessor to report themselves to civil authorities.
But he said he would pass on any reports made outside confession.
On the final day of the first part of the Ballarat hearings the commission heard 21 priests had been implicated in widespread abuse in the area.
Of them seven were Christian Brothers.
The diocese had dealt with more than 130 claims for compensation, paying some victim of brutal rapes just $5000.
Of the claims, more than 70 were linked to vile paedophile Gerald Ridsdale.