Catholic Archbishop has stated that he would “rather go to prison” than report pedophilia to police.

One of the highest-ranking officials in the Catholic Church made the shocking statement in response to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse saying there should be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for clergy who failed to alert police of abuse.

Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart insisted that sexual abuse was “a spiritual encounter with God through the priest” and was “of a higher order” than criminal law.

The current law says that clergy are not legally obliged to report crimes to the police and disciplinary proceedings for criminal activity by members of the Catholic Church are handled internally by Canon law, which operates independently of the regular legal procedure.

“We understand the significance of religious confession – in particular, the inviolability of the confessional seal to people of some faiths, particularly the Catholic faith”, said the report. “However, we heard evidence of a number of instances where disclosures of child sexual abuse were made in religious confession, by both victims and perpetrators.”

“We are satisfied that confession is a forum where Catholic children have disclosed their sexual abuse and where clergy have disclosed their abusive behavior in order to deal with their own guilt.”

Independent reports: Asked on Tuesday if he would rather go to prison than breach the seal of confession, he told ABC Radio Melbourne:

“I’ve said that I would.”I believe that this is an absolutely sacrosanct communication of a higher order.”