Skip to comments.Priests Could be Ordered to Report Confessions of Sex Abuse to Police [Australia]
Posted on 07/18/2012 6:56:52 AM PDT by marshmallow
UPDATE: THE prospect of government forcing priests to report what was said in confession is the sign of a "police state mentality", says a priest and law professor.
Hundreds of years of Catholic tradition in the confessional could be overturned by Victoria's inquiry into child sex abuse.
Priests would be ordered to reveal crimes told to them in private confessions under one proposal before the inquiry.
But priests say they will resist being forced to reveal secrets of the confessional.
Priest and law professor Father Frank Brennan said the move would be a restriction on religious freedom.
If a parliamentary inquiry were to recommend a law by parliament saying that priests were forced to disclose anything revealed to them in the sacrament of confession I think that would be a serious interference with the right of religious freedom, Father Brennan said today.
Indeed it would be a very sad day if we moved to a police state mentality, its almost of Russian dimensions to suggest Catholic priests would have to reveal to state authorities what went on under the seal of the confessional.
I am one of the priests who, if such a law were enacted, would disobey it and if need be I would go to jail.
Father Brennan said disclosures to priests in the confessional were different to those made to doctors or counsellors, or even when a priest was acting in a counsellor role.
If it were in the sacred realm of the sacrament of confession which in Catholic theology is akin to the penitent being in conversation with God, where the priest is simply an agent, then definitely the state has no role of interference in that.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.com.au ...
Not only can’t a priest tell what was said in Confession, he also can’t even acknowledge that he heard any particular person’s confession. Besides, in most cases the priest doesn’t know who the confessor is. If a priest does acknowledge any of these things, he ceases being a priest according to the rules of the Church. He cannot do it.
I don’t believe that is accurate at all. Absolution is of God and the Church. Turning one’s self in to authorities is relative to many other circumstances. The Penance is but one.
After correcting for synctatical errors, and assuming that "stating the obvious for effect" is the same as "stupid grandstanding," then yeah. That's just what I said.
>>>Fifth, what a priest can do, and is supposed to do, if a person confesses a felony, is instruct the penitent to contact the police, and withhold absolution until the penitent self-reports his crime.>>>
May I add that no one would report a crime in confession if the priest had to report it to the police. I believe this is just an attempt to keep people from going to confession. Or, in other words, it’s an attack on the Catholic Church.
That doesn’t do much for the cause of justice or future crimes commited by that person, does it?
What would happen to a priest that reported a criminal act divulged to him in confession?
When would a confession be invalid? When the penitent is not a baptized person; then the penitent is under an excommunication the lifting of which is reserved to the Bishop or the Apostolic See; when the penitent lacks awareness of the gravity of a sin; when he does not express remorse, or an intention of amendment.
"To acknowledge ones sins to recognise one as being a sinner, capable of sin and inclined to commit sin, is the essential first step in returning to God" (Pope John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Penitentia, (1984), n.13). Were it not possible to withhold absolution the very integrity of the act of Christian conversion would be undermined.
"God pardons nothing to those who pardon themselves everything," declared that saintly confessor, the Curé of Ars. Purporting to absolve an unrepentant penitent brings no one to this realisation. It will be a rare case, but when a person confesses a felony, requiring him to go to the police before absolution may be the only way to ascertain that he is actually repentant.
Fifth, what a priest can do, and is supposed to do, if a person confesses a felony, is instruct the penitent to contact the police, and withhold absolution until the penitent self-reports his crime.
You are exactly correct.
A priest who violates the seal of confession is subject to very severe ecclesiastical penalties. According to the Code of Canon Law, a priest who deliberately reveals a penitent’s sins and identity is subject to an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, which can be lifted only by the Apostolic See, i.e., the Pope (see canon 1388).
I was really torn on this issue until reading your post. After all, if someone is truly repentent, then they should be willing to turn themselves in and endure the consequences. Easy confession, i.e. just say you did it, then go on living as you did before, isn't true repentence.
Aren’t the penitents allowed to choose between anonymous and not?
On a career level, pretty much the same thing that would happen to a lawyer that reported a criminal act divulged to him in a privileged communication.
But this law allows defense attorneys professional prerogatives that it denies to clergy.
Wouldn’t the confession be invalid if the priest didn’t believe the penitent was truly repentant? That way, the priest could report it, and not be in the wrong?
Look for the real fun to start the second the accused gets to cut a deal for a lessened sentence based on giving a priest up. I suppose the pros. gets to decide if he believes the accused or not.
In other words, you made a poor analogy.
Sounds like a simple solution, all the priest has to do, is not believe the penitents sincerity. Since most sex abusers don’t quit until caught, I doubt any of them are really sincere, they just want to make themselves feel a little better by going to confession.
You took a pretty far stretch to twist condemnation of covering for a pedophile when you know about one into a condemnation of free speech. My response was and is warranted.
Who are covering for, wideawake?
What did they do?
Are they still doing it?
Given the way you tried to twist my words, those are very appropriate questions to ask you. Not that I expect you to be capable of giving an honest answer.
The absolution, however, is not always, and in every circumstance, and in every case, dependent upon turning one’s self into authorities.
That was my point to wideawake. Absolution is given, under all the reasons you say, but does not require turning one’s self in to authorities in every circumstance.
|Canon 983: The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.|
"In any way" "in any manner" "for any reason" seems to indicate that even if the priest suspects that the person is not truly repentant, he still can't violate the sacramental seal.
There was a recent case where a priest I slightly know, was actually arrested because a computer owned by him had child pornography on it. When questioned about it his answers sounded disturbingly evasive, even to me. Later turned out that a grad student had put the porn on the priest's computer (which was in a common area), and had confessed it.
The priest faced a total sliming of his good name, suspension from the priesthood, loss of his job at the University, and criminal prosecution, and yet could not even indirectly allude to the fact that somebody had confessed that he'd put this crap on the computer.
He was later totally exonerated when the offender of his own volition went to the police and confessed.
A dramatic case. You could probably find it if you google the priest's name, Fr. Mark Gruber.