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BarbaraTherese

Canberra ACT - Archbishop refuses to allow breaking the seal

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BarbaraTherese

 

catholicnewsagency

Published on Jun 19, 2018

 

As Australian states and territories pass and consider laws requiring priests to break the seal of confession to report cases of child sex abuse, Catholic priests are saying they would go to jail rather than violate the seal. “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,” said Fr. Michael Whelan, a parish priest at St. Patrick’s Church in Sydney, according to local news.

Fr. Whelan added that he, along with other priests, would be “willing to go to jail” rather than break the seal of confession. When asked if the Church was above the law, Whelan said “absolutely not” and remarked he would only be protecting religious freedom. “…when the state tries to intervene on our religious freedom, undermine the essence of what it means to be a Catholic, we will resist,” he said.

On June 7, the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly in Canberra passed a law which requires religious organizations to adhere to the requirements of the Reporting Conduct Scheme, which requires religious groups to report any allegations, offences or convictions of child abuse within 30 days. This legislation extends to the seal of confession, making it illegal for priests to fail to report the confession of a child sex abuse crime. South Australia has adopted a similar law, which will take effect Oct. 1, and New South Wales is considering the measure. Fr. Whelan believes the rest of the nation will follow the royal commission’s recommendation. “I expect every jurisdiction in Australia now will follow that recommendation and I expect the church throughout will simply not observe it?” Whelan said.

 

The latest..........

Canberra, our Aust Capital City, has passed a law requiring priests to break the seal of Confession where child abuse is confessed.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-28/child-advocate-condemns-archbishop-over-confessional-laws/10949054

Quote

 

Excerpt:  head of a leading child safety organisation has condemned comments made by Canberra's Catholic Archbishop, who indicated the church would not comply with new laws forcing priests to break the seal of confessional by reporting child sex abuse claims.

Key points:

  • Archbishop Christopher Prowse says sexual abuse won't be raised in confession
  • He says it's the role of civil authorities to "deal with crime and punishment"
  • ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay says it's everyone's responsibility to report child sex abuse

Speaking to ABC Radio Canberra, Archbishop for Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse said it was not the church's role to report crimes, adding that he did not expect the issue of child abuse to be raised in the confessional.

He was responding to reforms passed by the ACT Government last week that would make it an offence for any adult not to report suspected child sexual abuse to police.

 

 

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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Gary david

Hi. Thats a good topic Barbara. I hadent thought of this before. What horrible situation for a priest to find himself in. What a awful, awful thing for a preist to hear about a child being hurt and nothing he can do about it. Thats a terrible suffering, you know that. And on top of that being faced with possible jail time. Well unless the church changes the law, the priest hasent much choice if he wants to continue serving God in the catholic faith.

  I was reading some about this article.and found this information which I also found interesting.

God bless....

http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2008/12/04/can-a-priest-ever-reveal-what-is-said-in-confession/

Edited by Gary david

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cruciatacara

I personally think the seal of the confessional is an outdated canon law. The confessional shouldn't be a place where criminals can confess and get off scott free. I would give up my own personal right to the privacy of the confessional if it meant saving a child from years of horrifying abuse and a life of shame and distress. But then I don't confess crimes, just sins. I suppose it must be nice for criminals to be able to unburden themselves to the priest, knowing full well that he can't say or do anything about their heinous crimes. They get relief, he gets the burden of a horrible secret and no justice gets done for the victims. The civil law is right in this case, canon law is wrong.

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Gary david

Well you just said what I was thinking. Of course I am not a priest either. I was trying to put myself in the place of a priest and imagining someone telling me something like that. And I still dont know what I might do for these reasons. For one thing if someone tells a priest something in confidence regardless of what it may be and then the priest informs  authorities then it would not be long before no one would approach a priest for confession once the seal is broken. And I feel that would also lead to many others not approaching  the confessional. 

  No matter how I look at it I know it wouldnt stop children from being harmed. It may even make matters worse if one cannot even approach council with the priest without reprisals. I must say that if someone told me that I feel somehow I would have to turn that individual over to the authorities. Having said that I still dont know if that would be correct. It would only work for a very short time before nobody with a crime would approach a priest for confession . This is a powerful topic. One has to be very careful here.

  Well thats my opinion up till now unless someone has something else to say that would  change my opinion.

  God bless.....

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BarbaraTherese

It is a dilemma.  It is a dilemma to be sorted out by moral theologians advising Rome.  It has been said that moral theology and canon law are minefields and they are.  One statement is qualified by another or even cancelled out by another immediately or only sometimes in certain cases.

We have rules about contrition required for a valid reception of the Sacrament of Penance.  Perhaps a rule could be made that valid reception requires anyone who has committed a serious crime to report to the police either prior to or after Confession.  Confession is indeed between a person and God alone.  I think that God and His Justice would ask that serious crimes are reported to secular authorities, who are an authority over us established by God  for order and the common good...........and what is more important for social order and the common good than the protection and welfare of children?

Quote

 

Romans Chapter 13: " Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.

For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer.

Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience."

 

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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chrysostom

A priest I know says that a confession belongs to God and not to the priest. I for one agree with him.

Saint Mateo Correa Magallanes was martyred - and canonised - for refusing to break the seal. It is not just policy, it is a sacred thing.

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cruciatacara

As @BarbaraTherese says, it is a moral dilemma. The seal is a sacred thing and yes, it is between the penitent and God, but if the person really is penitent, then they should be turning themselves in to the authorities for their crimes. What they really want is to use the system to get rid of the guilt without having to pay the price. I think the priest is put in a terrible position, and yes, he hands it over to God, but how awful to live with the knowledge that e.g. a pedophile or murderer is out there and quite possibly going to commit the crime again. 

I still think that the rules should be changed to allow for priests to keep the seal for sins that are not crimes, but not for sins that are crimes. 

I can't even imagine the number of pedophile priests who confessed their sins but then went on to commit more and more crimes against children as they just got moved from parish to parish, instead of being turned over to the police.

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chrysostom

I get where you're coming from, but the seal is not the seal if it has exceptions, it is not the seal if it is continually subject to civil law. Its absolute nature is bound up in its sacredness. The priest - and the state - has no right to a penitent's confession. Only God does.

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BarbaraTherese

The conditions for a valid confession are: 

  • We are truly sorry for what we have done
  • We intend to not commit the offence again
  • We perform our penance given in the confessional

(I think the above is all?)

I can't see why another condition for valid confession cannot be added:

  • Where serious crimes are concerned I have either reported to Police or intend to do so after Confession.  The priest in Confession can remind his penitent of this obligation.

I can't see why it could not be done sparing the priest a dreadful moral dilemma, but then I do know just what a minefield moral law and canon law can be.   Of course, the person might tell Father in Confession that he/she has no intention of reporting to police at any time.  What then? To my mind, Father is then released from the seal of Confession and must report to the police.

The Church (as hierarchy) has a clear responsibility and accountability to act to protect children and that is a mandate given to them and to us all............nothing optional about it.

Confession is between the person and God; however, "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,*and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The Church is given by God the authority to make rules and also to change rules.

The protection of children is involved !!!

 

3 minutes ago, chrysostom said:

I get where you're coming from, but the seal is not the seal if it has exceptions, it is not the seal if it is continually subject to civil law. Its absolute nature is bound up in its sacredness. The priest - and the state - has no right to a penitent's confession. Only God does.

Then what might need to happen is that The Church reverts to a time when there was no necessity to tell one's sins to a priest in the confessional and the penitent confesses to God privately.  We could have the Second Rite of Confession without individual confessions.

Protection of children is the primary issue.

Second Rite of Confession

 

http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?44254-How-did-confession-originate&p=355586#post355586

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chrysostom
11 minutes ago, BarbaraTherese said:

Then what might need to happen is that The Church reverts to a time when there was no necessity to tell one's sins to a priest in the confessional and the penitent confesses to God privately.  We could have the Second Rite of Confession without individual confessions.

Protection of children is the primary issue.

Second Rite of Confession

 

In order for someone to be absolved of mortal sin in a communal absolution, it is required for validity that they confess those sins, individually, at the earliest opportunity. So in the end that even defaults back to individual confession. Individual confession, to a priest, is intrinsically how the sacrament works.

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BarbaraTherese

Quite some years ago now, we had the Second Rite of Confession regularly in our diocesan parishes, with individual confession, for those who chose to go.  Not many went to the confessional, but heaps of people showed up for the service.  Apparently, Rome ordered the practise to cease which it did, but so did the attendance at the confessional.  And when I think about it, so did the attendance at Mass which seems to me to be at almost the same time.......or so it seems to me.

Not many priests in our diocese will attend the confessional for a specified period - apparently because often no one at all attends.  Most confessions nowadays are by appointment.  Feedback from parishioners is that they no longer attend confession because they hate to ring up for an appointment.  They find it too intimidating.

 

Just now, chrysostom said:

In order for someone to be absolved of mortal sin in a communal absolution, it is required for validity that they confess those sins, individually, at the earliest opportunity. So in the end that even defaults back to individual confession. Individual confession, to a priest, is intrinsically how the sacrament works.

I know this, but The Church could change it........ I think.  As I have said, what we are talking about is not preservation of ritual, rather the protection of children.   We have not always had confessing of one's sins to a priest as the rite of forgiveness.

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chrysostom
4 minutes ago, BarbaraTherese said:

I know this, but The Church could change it........ I think.  As I have said, what we are talking about is not preservation of ritual, rather the protection of children.   We have not always had confessing of one's sins to a priest as the rite of forgiveness.

But that's precisely what the Sacrament of Confession has always been, from day one.

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BarbaraTherese
1 minute ago, chrysostom said:

But that's precisely what the Sacrament of Confession has always been, from day one.

I don't think so.:blush:  We have no always had to confess our sins to a priest.  I don't have time just now to research but I will.

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chrysostom
Just now, BarbaraTherese said:

I don't think so.:blush:  We have no always had to confess our sins to a priest.  I don't have time just now to research but I will.

I would be interested to see the research. In the meantime, if I may quote the CCC...

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a4.htm

"1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament."

If that could be changed it would not be essential to the sacrament.

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BarbaraTherese

Very quick research brought up what appears below.  I thought it was in the 7th century; however, britannica says 5th century confession began;  of what the rite of confession consisted has changed down the centuries. Both confession to a priest and the seal of confession have not existed as long as The Church has existed.  These come into being at points in our history.

I am not a theologian but I do believe that The Church has The Keys to The Kingdom and a mandate to bind and to loose from Jesus.  Admittedly, this does not mean The Church can mandate willy nilly what it likes.  It takes theologians advising Rome to nut out the dilemma in which The Church today finds Herself.  I am stating that changing is a possibility.........however am not a theologian.

I can see what probably will flow from The Church refusing to change.  And if The Church does refuse to change, then we all have to deal with what will, in all likelihood, follow.

This point has to be the cutoff point for me on Phatmass......... for today only.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/confession-religion

A detailed confession to a bishop or priest, however, appeared early in the church’s history. In the 5th-century discipline of the Roman Church, the practice was to hear confessions at the beginning of Lent and to reconcile the penitents on Holy Thursday. Gradually, however, the practice of reconciling, or absolving, sinners immediately after confession and before fulfillment of penance was introduced. By the end of the 11th century, only notorious sinners were reconciled on Holy Thursday. Often, those guilty of serious sins put off penance until death approached.

To correct this abuse, the fourth Lateran Council (1215) established the rule that every Christian should confess to a priest at least once a year.

 

https://medievalbruno.weebly.com/uploads/2/7/5/2/2752477/the_penitential_of_finnian.pdf

The Penitential of Finnian (late 6th century) The purpose of penance is to reconcile the repentant sinner with God. In early Christian practice, penance was public, dramatic, and humiliating. But within the Celtic, Anglo-Saon, and Frankish worlds a different sort of penance became popular: the “tariffed,” private penance of the penitentials. Drawing on Biblical passages, canons of early church councils, monastic practices, and perhaps secular laws, these penitentials listed sins and the penances due for them (the tariffs) as a matter of regular religious discipline. The penitential of Finnian (originally in Latin) is one of the earliest such texts. Although most likely created in a monastic context, it was directed mainly to the laity rather than monks. Sources: Introduction: Barbara Rosenwein, Reading the Middle Ages (New York, 2006), p. 109. (modified); Text: The Penitential of Finnian. In Medieval Handbooks of Penance by John T. McNeil and Helen Gamer. New York: Columbia University Press, 1938.

 

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