Although Hong Kong’s Roman Catholic Church has said it will cooperate with police investigating allegations of sexual abuse of children, church officials will not hand over any written confessions by priests, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The South China Morning Post quoted a local Catholic official, the Rev. Lawrence Lee, as saying that turning over such statements would amount to a breach of trust among priests who assumed that their confessions would be kept confidential.
“It is inappropriate to disclose the priests’ confession of their sins,” Lee was quoted as saying. “We consider it improper to pass on the records to police, even if the confessions were made during our internal investigations.”
Lee reportedly said that the church would instead provide general information to police investigating abuse cases, as it has done already in a scandal that broke last week. The church did not inform police about the abuse cases when it first learned about them, however.
Lee could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Allegations have surfaced in Hong Kong that children were abused by as many as six priests who worked here, although the church has said that one case occurred in another country before the priest was transferred to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong police are investigating, but they that say at least two of the priests have moved away, one to Canada and one to Australia.
One former priest has been arrested but was released on bail.