Abbott wants child abuse to be reported

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says all Australians should report knowledge of child abuse, including what priests are told of such incidents in confession.

This follows the call from senior opposition frontbencher Christopher Pyne that priests have a responsibility to report crimes to police even if the details are given to them during confession.

Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, yesterday told reporters "the seal of confession is inviolable" even if a priest confesses to child sex abuse.

Mr Abbott says everyone has to obey the law.

"If they become aware of sexual offences against children, those legal requirements must be adhered to," he told reporters in Brisbane today.

"The law is no respecter of persons. Everyone has to obey the law, regardless of what job they are doing, what position they hold."

Asked if that applied to priests, Mr Abbott replied: "Indeed."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on Monday a royal commission to investigate how institutions have dealt with cases of child sex abuse following fresh allegations of cover-ups by the Catholic Church and police in the NSW Hunter region.

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