Law passed requiring priests to break seal of confession " Australia

Discussion in 'Australian News Reports/other' started by Admin, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Admin

    Admin Administrator

    Australia passes law requiring priests
    to break seal of confession, bishop protests

    CANBERRA, Australia, June 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A new law in Australia requires Catholic priests in Canberra to break the sacred seal of confession to report a child-sex abuser. The law, which has drawn fierce opposition from Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra, could result in faithful priests being jailed who refuse to comply.

    A bill passed on June 7 by the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) extends mandatory reporting of child abuse to cover churches and church activities, including the Catholic confessional. All the political parties in the Assembly supported the measure.

    A Roman Catholic priest cannot violate the seal of the confessional, which means that he cannot repeat what he is told by a penitent confessing his or her sins, without incurring automatic excommunication. The Catholic Church teaches that confession is a sacrament, a place of encounter between the Christian and Jesus Christ. The priest who hears the confession is merely Christ’s instrument of forgiveness.

    HItherto the confessional was exempt from ACT’s reporting laws; from March 31, 2019, priests who do not report confessions regarding child abuse to the police risk prosecution.

    Archbishop Prowse slammed the new law, saying "priests are bound by a sacred vow to maintain the seal of the confession. Without that vow, who would be willing to unburden themselves of their sins, seek the wise counsel of a priest and receive the merciful forgiveness of God?"

    Prowse, the archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, wrote an essay in the Canberra Times last week explaining why legislating against the seal of confession will do much harm and no good.

    “First, what sexual abuser would confess to a priest if they thought they would be reported?” he asked.

    Prouse explained that it is the common experience of pastors that child abusers don’t confess their crimes to either priests or police. If the seal was removed, the theoretical possibility abusers might confess and be counselled to turn themselves in would be lost.

    “Second, the government itself has acknowledged [with] the [Catholic] church’s ‘Truth, Justice and Healing Council... that [...] it [was] difficult to see systematic abuse of the seal of confession,” Prowse wrote. “People who attend confession are sorry for their sins, indicate resolve not to sin again and seek God’s mercy. Pedophiles carry out evil and unspeakable criminal acts. They hide their crimes; they do not self-report.”

    Third, he pointed out that priests do not necessarily know the identities of people who confess to them.

    Fourth, he said that such a law attacks the inviolate seal of the confessional.

    Originally the ACT government invited the archbishop to meet with the Attorney General to discuss the importance of both the protection of children and the seal of the confessional. However, the legislature began to debate the new bill before this meeting could take place. The archbishop decried this loss of opportunity for dialogue, pointing out that the proposed new law threatened religious freedom.

    “Religious freedom is the freedom to hold a belief and, secondly, the freedom to manifest belief in community and in public, privately and individually in worship, observance, practice and teaching,” he explained.

    “The government threatens religious freedom by appointing itself an expert on religious practises and by attempting to change the sacrament of confession while delivering not improvement in the safety of children,” he continued.

    The new reporting laws will require priests to report allegations or offenses related to children to the ACT Ombudsman within 30 days.

    Two members of the ACT Legislative Assembly thought forcing priests to break the seal of the confessional was a step in the wrong direction.

    Andrew Wall, a former student of Marist College, a school notorious in Australia for child sex abuse allegations, said that while some of the child protection measures in the new law were “overdue”, he objected to its extension to the confessional.

    According to the Canberra Times, Wall said forcing priests to break the confessional seal “significantly impinges on an individual’s freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of individual rights.”

    Vicki Dunne, the second member, pointed out that a priest who breaks the seal of confession incurs an excommunication that can be lifted only by the pope. In addition, it would undermine Catholics’ trust in the "sacred, sacramental and sacrosanct" rite.

    “We need to stop and think twice before we pass legislation that requires Catholic priest to break the seal of the confession,” she had warned.


  2. JillMcFaul

    JillMcFaul Active Member

    Obedience to such a law is not required and forbidden. Any priest who acquiesces to such a law deserves excommunication.
  3. Admin

    Admin Administrator

    That is true. Since we have the combination of a Pope in the process of destroying the church, plus the state of disunity in the priesthood, plus the scandal of paedophile priests and homosexual priests, having been swept under the carpet, we are reaping the rewards of the weeds we have let grow in the church. The Church is discredited in the eyes of the world, so until Rome comes back to the faith and priestly unity restored under a faithful Pope we are paying the price spoken of by Our Lord when he said - when the salt loses its flavour it is only fit to be thrown out. I wonder how many priests will comply with the law.

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  4. JillMcFaul

    JillMcFaul Active Member

    A true priest, faithful to the Truth will never comply. Please God may they all refuse.
  5. Admin

    Admin Administrator

  6. Admin

    Admin Administrator

    Australian priests say they’ll risk
    jail to protect seal of confession from new law

    SYDNEY, June 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic priests in Australia remain defiant after the passage of a new law requiring them to break the sacred seal of confession to report sexual abuse.

    On June 7, the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed legislation, backed by every political party in the chamber, extending mandatory reporting of child abuse to churches and church activities, including the Catholic confessional, starting March 31 of next year. South Australia will begin enforcing a similar law in October.

    The law creates a conflict with Roman Catholic priests’ religious duty to keep anything said during confession private, under penalty of automatic excommunication. Father Michael Whelan, the parish priest of Sydney’s St. Patrick's Church Hill, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he was “willing to go to jail” rather than follow the law, and he expects other priests will react the same way.

    The Catholic Church is not above the law, he explained, but “when state tries to intervene on our religious freedom, undermine the essence of what it means to be a Catholic, we will resist.”

    Whelan also expressed concern about enforcement, noting that due to the private nature of confession, the “only way” the government “would be able to see whether the law was being observed or not is to try and entrap priests."

    As for the concern over bringing pedophiles to justice, the priest added that if someone confessed to molesting a child, he would instead take it upon himself to “stop them immediately” by telling him, “Come with me now, we will go down to the police station in order for you to show that you are remorseful.”

    “Priests feel strongly about this, and are prepared to go to jail for it. If the Australian state is so foolish as to want to make martyrs, then there will be plenty of candidates,” Father Alexander Lucie-Smith agreed, writing at the Catholic Herald.

    He noted that the law would do little to actually uncover child abuse, as “no one who has abused anyone, or been tempted to do so, will ever dare to discuss the matter with a priest” under the new law. He also warned that it would be virtually impossible to prove or disprove a child abuser’s claim that he previously confessed to a silent priest, potentially landing priests in more unwarranted legal jeopardy.

    Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, also vowed to risk jail rather than comply with the law, back when it was first proposed last year.

    Last week, Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn added that the “common experience of pastors” is that “those who abuse children do not confess the crime,” and that even if they did there was no guarantee the priest would even see their face or learn their name, making it unlikely that the law would help find more offenders even if priests complied with it.

    Practical objections aside, Lucie-Smith warned that the law interferes with a vital promise of the Catholic Church.

    “Whoever you are, whatever your sins, you can approach a Catholic priest, and whatever you tell him will go no further,” Lucie-Smith explained. “Because even sinners have rights and deserve that assurance of confidentiality. It is one of the things that God guarantees them, and the State has no right to take that away from them.”


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