The spiritual leader of Australia's 3.5 million Anglicans, Phillip Aspinall, believes that priests may be able to report child abuse revealed during the rite of confession without breaking the seal of the confessional, putting him at odds with Catholics.
The Anglican Primate says the sanctity of the confessional should be examined by the royal commission into child sexual abuse called this week by Julia Gillard, which he regards as being a decade overdue.
Dr Aspinall's predecessor as Archbishop of Brisbane, Peter Hollingworth - who lost his job as governor-general after a scandal erupted over his handling of sex-abuse cases in the diocese - also backed the inquiry.
Dr Hollingworth warned yesterday that the abuse of children was "more widespread than previously thought", and welcomed the royal commission as an important national initiative and a means to help victims.
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