Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Australia: New law may require priests to reveal some confessions

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.
Read the rest here.

Catholics are understandably up in arms about this. But we should be as well. The Orthodox tradition regarding the confidentiality of confession is the same.

7 comments:

The Archer of the Forest said...

I known an Australian MP. I will forward this to him.

Anonymous said...

Can the seal actually be broken?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Roman Catholic Canon Law forbids it. It is one of the few things in the RCC that still carries an automatic excommunication. We don't have anything comparable to their canon law, but the confidentiality of confession is considered inviolable in the Orthodox Church and has been for probably a thousand years or longer. A priest who intentionally breaks that confidence would likely find himself unemployed very quickly and probably excommunicated unless he repented.

Subdeacon David Gould said...

I know full well what clergy sexual abuse is - and what misuse of the sacrament of confession is also. It is a form of spiritual abuse, perhaps as bad and maybe worse than sexual abuse of minors. Nonetheless, I still firmly reject this move which smacks of anti-Christian atheistic persecution, however well-intentioned it's authors may be. I hope the Australian Orthodox bishops reject it.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Nobody can FORCE a confession to be revealed. It all just depends upon the courage of the priest.

Matushka Anna said...

Too true, Anastasia.

Anonymous said...

How would such a revealed confession actually stand up in most courts? It is the priest's word against the
penitent's.

It isn't as if the priest were an accomplice or a witness to a penitent's crime.