“Mandatory Reporting” of Abuse Confessed in Sacramental Confession

PADRE PIO SEAL OF CONFESSION

– Katherine Gregory, a political reporter for ABC News (that’s Australia Broadcasting, btw), headlines this: “Catholic leaders ‘willing to go to jail’ to uphold seal of confession and not report child sex abuse.”

Wow. So, that makes it sound as if priests want to protect child abuse. No. The vast, vast, vast majority of priests are honest, have integrity of life, and are offended by those who have betrayed Jesus Christ our Lord and God and all the rest of us priests and all members of the mystical Body of the Divine Son of God who will come to judge the living and dead and world by fire.

So, this is dishonest and manipulative reporting from the outset. Irresponsible. It represents hatred of God, hatred of neighbor and, as we will see, actually promotes the abuse of those who are vulnerable.

But I’ll tell you this, people are eager – so eager – to tell all priests to go to hell with absolutely zero due process. Like Judas betraying Jesus. It is what it is in this cowardly society of tender snowflakes in which we live. Are we brave? Honest? Do we have some integrity? O.K. Let’s actually take a look at the issues then, shall we? Here’s her article with emphases and [[comments]] by yours truly.


South Australia has joined the ACT [[Australian Capital Territory]] in moving ahead with laws to force Catholic priests to break the seal of confession, to report paedophiles to police. [[No one is ever forced to do the wrong thing like breaking the seal of confession. One can always choose to face the consequences like going to prison.]]

Other states are still deliberating over whether or not they will adopt that recommendation from the royal commission. [[Another has already gone along with this. All the others are expected to follow in short order.]]

But Catholic Church leaders have rejected the idea. Father Michael Whelan, the parish priest in St Patrick’s Church Hill in Sydney, said priests would not break the seal of confession:

“The state will be requiring us as Catholic priests to commit as what we regard as the most serious crime and I’m not willing to do that,” Father Whelan said. [[That’s just a lot of bluster. He is willing to do this, but in a more idiotic manner, as we will see…]]

The New South Wales Government has said it would respond later this month about whether priests would be legally obliged to report confessions of child sex abuse.

“I expect every jurisdiction in Australia now will follow that recommendation and I expect the church throughout will simply not observe it,” Father Whelan said.

Asked if the Catholic Church was above the law, he said:

“Absolutely not, but when state tries to intervene on our religious freedom, undermine the essence of what it means to be a Catholic, we will resist. The only way they [the states] would be able to see whether the law was being observed or not is to try and entrap priests.” [[That would be right. But confessionals have been bugged in New York by the FBI. I was personally asked by the Italian Department of Defense to do this for them. I did not do this! Communist China regularly sends agents to “confess” to, say, subversion, like planning something like the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. If the priest doesn’t immediately intercept the “penitent” and drag him to the police for torture and death the priest himself will be sent off to re-education and labor and prison camps where bad things like torture and death take place.]]

Father Whelan said he was “willing to go to jail” rather than abide by a law. [[But not really. Watch what he does:]] An alternative, if a priest hears a paedophile confess sins of child sexual abuse, would be to “stop them immediately”, says Father Whelan:

“I would say, ‘Come with me now, we will go down to the police station in order for you to show that you are remorseful’,” he said. [[Well, sugar. That’s the same as breaking the Seal of Confession. Even worse. This makes priests into Law Enforcement Officers because they are priests. I can see it now. The priest and therefore police officer with divine mandate causes a huge scene, tackling, fighting, hand-cuffing, pepper-spraying, tasering, and, if there’s resistence that turns into a life endangering fight (which it might at the first suggestion of a police station), shooting the guy until the threat stops. Yep. I can just see it now, all those priests so highly trained in interrogation and take down techniques, verifying IDs (impossible), arresting the worst criminals in society and singlehandedly bringing them down for a public interrogation, confession and absolution. That’s realistic. Not. Can you imagine? Does that also refer to anything else that would be against the law? Murder, theft, illegal parking? Where do we draw the line? Is any confession to be private?]]

NSW Labor senator Kristina Keneally, who is a scholar of theology[[!]] and a Catholic[[!]], said church [[definite article?!]] could not put itself above the law, but mandatory reporting was not the most effective way to prevent abuse. [[She sounds reasonable so far, but watch this, she’s going to capitalize on the suffering of real victims to get her ideology accepted:]]

“I would look to ordination itself, I would look to who we ordain,” she said. “I have no doubt that if more women and more parents were involved in the leadership of their Catholic Church, that the problem of child sexual abuse would not have been as big as it was and would have been dealt with far differently when it came to light within the institution.”

========= The rest of what follows are my comments:

Did you see the clever switcheroo in this last bit? What we’re talking about statistically is, say, a layman going to confession for committing abuse (pretty much 100% of that being incest) and whether the priest should bring that fact from the confessional to the police. But this politician all of a sudden takes the confessional out of the picture and implies that the whole problem rests with priests and that women and parents are always innocent. That sounds like guilt speaking, the ol’ projection of one’s own guilt trick. As it is, incest stats are staggering. The Atlantic has this:]]

“Here are some statistics that should be familiar to us all, but aren’t, either because they’re too mind-boggling to be absorbed easily, or because they’re not publicized enough. One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18 [[I think those gender-stats are in reverse…]], an overwhelming incidence of which happens within the family. [[“Overwhelming” – “Within the family”]] These statistics are well known among industry professionals, who are often quick to add, ‘and this is a notoriously underreported crime.’”

============ Some other points:

  • The priest has no right to what is said in Confession. This belongs to Jesus who shed His blood to forgive sin. If the priest betrays this it seems to me that he takes on the guilt of those sins himself. You won’t want to see the punishments he will receive in hell. If the State tries to get this information, recording this or whatever, it seems to me that the same dynamic holds. Whoever it is in the State doing this will take on those sins before God. Yep.
  • The Seal of Confession is absolute, between the penitent and God. What’s said in confession stays there.
  • The priest is not a law enforcement officer (and even if he was, he still wouldn’t have a right to this information).
  • There is often a screen between priest and penitent, and so the priest doesn’t know who it is anyway.
  • The mention of the crime may not be by the perpetrator, but by the victim, who is asking for advice on how to bring this to police and how to find some peace with God and neighbor.
  • If there is mandatory reporting for some sin, the result will be that either there is public confession of all and any sin or no confession at all. It is what it is.

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse, Confession, Missionaries of Mercy

2 responses to ““Mandatory Reporting” of Abuse Confessed in Sacramental Confession

  1. Gina Nakagawa

    Our world is dominated by abysmal ignorance concerning the Catholic Faith. Not a whole lot has been done to rectify this sad state. At his moment there is a great deal of confusion both inside and outside the Church. Certainly there is little to no knowledge of the seven sacraments by and large. The seal of confession is an unknown. God bless the faithful clergy who would rather face great suffering than betray their vows to God. God bless and help them to stand fast in the face of such ignorance, and really such demonic assault.

  2. If it were an old style confessional, the priest wouldn’t know who made the confession. That doesn’t justify the attack on the Church, but history tends to repeat itself.

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