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Australian archbishops to ask Vatican for clarity on confession issues


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SYDNEY (CNS) -- Australia's five archbishops said they would consider asking the Vatican for clarification on concerns raised in a government inquiry into sexual abuse of children in the church.

Among those concerns were whether the seal of confession includes only the sins confessed, not other information revealed in confession, and under what circumstances -- specifically concerning an abuser -- a priest could withhold absolution.

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide said the permanent committee of the bishops' conference would meet in early March to set the agenda for its May meeting. If the full conference approved, documentation could be sent to Pope Francis after the May meeting, asking the pope "to expedite it and deal with it," Archbishop Wilson said.

"These are two very specific issues where the church must do more work at clarifying its own position so that those of us who are responsible for the formation of priests can make sure that our priests are properly educated in these matters," said Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth.

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