Ireland already has a law that requires priests to break the seal of the Confessional if a confessor tells them about sexual abuse. Priests, of course, have vowed to break the law if need be.
Now, Australia is following suit:
Hundreds of years of Catholic tradition in the confessional could be overturned by Victoria's inquiry into child sex abuse. v Priests would be ordered to reveal crimes told to them in private confessions under one proposal before the inquiry.Several other issues are pertinent here:
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, it’s 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.”
- How would the authorities enforce this law?
- Why are they targeting only Catholic clergy?
- Is this a mere political tactic to jump on the anti-Catholic clergy bandwagon?
Sad day for all of us, but I don't see it changing anything nor making a positive impact in any way.
Pray for our priests, our Church, and our culture.