Australian Cardinal: Confessional Seal is Inviolable, Even in Abuse Cases

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, has said that while the Church will cooperate with a federal commission investigating child abuse, priests will not break the seal of confession.

Someone who confesses sins involving abuse will not be reported to police by his confessor, the cardinal said. He explained that while an admission made outside the confessional would be reported, “the seal of confession is inviolable.”

Cardinal Pell said that if a priest is aware that someone has been guilty of abuse, “the priest should refuse to hear the confession.”

The cardinal said that he welcomed the federal investigation because it will “clear the air” and “separate fact from fiction” regarding the Church’s response to sex-abuse complaints. He has said that media reports have portrayed the Church’s role unfairly.

Source

 

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TAC Priest in South Africa.
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46 Responses to Australian Cardinal: Confessional Seal is Inviolable, Even in Abuse Cases

  1. Continental Catholic says:

    Apart from the fact that all statistics in the US show that, pro rata, the Catholic Church was one of the least affected denominations by the child abuse problem, there is also an interesting analysis by SNAP organisation of victims (with generally anti-Catholic bias), which indicates that – contrary to popular belief – the Catholic Church is most accountable in its actions due to traditional canon law requirements that all decisions be documented (i.e. that ‘judaisation’ or ‘legalistic approach’ often criticised by Fr. Robert in the comment box here), while it is very hard to trace and prosecute predators in, say, Baptist communities.

    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/BaptistHideSeek.html

    • I have seen some of this canon law in action, and it often goes nowhere! Just into Vatican deep round files! And the predators go off into a monastery for a few months at best!

      • Joseph Golightly says:

        You are not correct about that in the UK. The church deals with this very differently from what you spout. The ones that are found guilty by due process of law – remember in the UK one is innocent until proven guilty – and a few have ended up with prison sentences and have been stripped of their priesthood. That does not sound like a few months in a monastery. But of course you know better.

      • Your right Joe, I’ve been there and seen it myself! (Yes, some of this was years ago in my 20’s as a English Benedictine, but nothing has radically changed), sure they finally burn a few, but nothing like the overall grave problem and sin itself! The money that has been spent by the Catholic Church to quiet those that have been abused, has been huge! And again, I know a few who have been abused here! And I am not “spouting” here, but speaking both what I have seen, and a few involved. I always seek to speak both truth & conscience, btw. But, I am surely not in love with Roman Catholicism, at least as the visible institution! In reality, as I keep pressing “biblically & theologically”, the real historic Church Catholic is a Pilgrim Church Body, in a fallen world, and always itself subject to the “reforming” nature of the Word of God! And this will not change until the “eschaton” and the Coming of Christ!

  2. Matthew Fowler says:

    It was saddening to hear that many childhood victims over 50yo have either taken their lives or aren’t able to pursue their paedophile Priest abuser/s due to psycho-social-emotional issues. Suffer the little children?

  3. Sandra McColl says:

    This hysteria about the confessional comes up in the media every time this sorry subject gets an airing. I wonder, however, how much the sacrament of penance is to blame for covering up instances of child abuse. It might be on television or in the cinema (makes good drama, especially for those who don’t understand these things), but in actual fact the cover-ups that are complained of are inquiries that stayed ‘in house’, or complaints by children or parents that weren’t taken seriously or, if taken seriously, weren’t reported on to the police (and the parents were encouraged, apparently to stay quiet) while the perpetrator was merely moved to new territory. I don’t think evidence obtained from the confessional would be much if any use compared with the evidence described in the previous sentence.

    • There are some of us that believe only God can forgive sin, and that any so-called sacrament in which a man as a priest is the sacramental vessel to make forgiveness, is simply not biblical! And for what its worth, I would be with Calvin here! Only Christ and the Gospel are the means of forgiveness, thru repentance & faith. And it is here I would put forth the three-fold office of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, and here HE alone is Mediator! (1 Tim. 2: 5) Thus, Reformed theology, with its re-emphasis of the biblical stress on ‘saving history’.. Christ is known in what he “does”. “Revelation, Atonement, Lordship are the three aspects of one and the same reality, of what God in Jesus Christ has done, and will do for us.” (Emil Brunner)

      • Continental Catholic says:

        “some of us believe only God can forgive sin”
        Some of us? You don’t? Cause we Catholics do.

      • CC..Forgive an old Irishman, but what the heck are you trying to say? Funny how you never address any of the “theological”, or “biblical” substance in my posts! I guess you are like our friends here that only believe Roman Catholics will receive God’s grace?

      • Stephen M says:

        To be fair to Continental Catholic, most of the time I can’t make head or tail of the word-salad you post, either. There may be “biblical” or “theological” points in there somewhere, but they’re well hidden in half-formed thoughts and outright gibberish.

        Anyway, it has been suggested to me (by an Evangelical Anglican, lest some think I’m being brainwashed by evil Orthodox priests into becoming a Greek-speaking cultural hobo) that hanging out on these blogs is not good for my spiritual health – and that is no reflection upon the blog owners. Having considered the matter, I think she’s right. I’m going to try and give up blogs for Advent. Pray for me, please.

      • Ioannes says:

        Well, according to St. Athanasius, who lived before the “Reformers” we often must use extra-biblical language to explain biblical principles. It doesn’t diminish anything. In fact, it distorts the Bible when we do things like absolute literalism or absolute metaphorical interpretation. As much as when individuals who believe that their faith excuses them to make erroneous interpretation, independent of any Apostolic Authority.

        God freely imparts Grace. But it’s questionable if that Grace exists in communities at odds with the Church established by Christ, founded upon St. Peter. At the heart of this is the belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist: If a person is baptized, then the Original Sin is washed away, but the effects of that sin still remain, like a scar. Yet Jesus Christ also died for our sins. How does it follow that a person who is baptized is still capable of sinning? By Free Will, we are capable to choose, but through baptism we attain a life of Grace which we can lose by freely committing sin. We separate ourselves from God. Then, how are sins to be forgiven? When one sins, one offends God, but one cannot merely shout into empty space of one’s repentance. One must be forgiven through the Earthly authorities given to us by Jesus Christ; when one is absolved by the Priest, God absolves you, because the Priest is given the Spirit during his ordination to forgive and to perform the Sacrifice of the Mass. This has been the custom since Pentecost.

        And then, even if one is forgiven, to what end is this forgiveness? Jesus states: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53) So baptism, and forgiveness of sins after baptism all lead to the Eucharist, in the spiritual and bodily food provided to us by bread and wine, which are truly the Body and Blood of Christ. If we deny this, then we call Jesus a liar, who said He Loves us wholly, truly, in His entire Body, Soul, and Divinity.

        Or are we now doubting the possibility that God is -capable- of doing what Catholics claim? Nothing in God is impossible, and to limit what God is capable of doing to what the Bible says is BLASPHEMY at its worst and Pharisaic at its best.

      • Ioannes says:

        @ Stephen M

        Oh, you’ll be back. (At least after Advent.)

      • Well indeed there is a great difference between Eastern (EO) and Western theology, I have heard many EO’s posit this idea here! But indeed Reformational & Reformed theology is always somewhat Augustinian, and thus too scholastic, and of course this is “Anathema” for most of the EO. Btw, just listening and reading the words here about Liturgy, East, West and in-between is quite a tossed salad itself, I mean who really cares! (At least to the depth of Christian spirituality!) Certainly not many of us Reformed! And, I bet I know more about Orthodoxy than you do about the Reformed? So walk softly there mate, you sure don’t want me to start picking on what I see as the theological problems of the EO! And as I have said, I actually have friends there! (But they don’t blog! ;)

        *By all means take a blog sabbatical, I’m sure one less blogger won’t be missed! Oh yes, did you really have a hard time understanding Emil Brunner, or perhaps C.H. Dodd? I bet not, but just reject their logic and theology! Not to mention Luther and Calvin!

      • Stephen M says:

        Oh, I’ve no doubt you know more about Orthodoxy than I do about Reformed theology. You probably know more than I do about Orthodoxy too. That’s not the point though. It’s not the theologians that are incomprehensible, it’s you.

        Your response was most enlightening, and the reason I hung around. Having seen it, I really am going to toddle off for at least a couple of months (if I can resist, which I hope I can). Threaten me if you like, call me ‘mate’ if it makes you feel happy, and pick on whatever theological point – Eastern or otherwise – that you choose. I’m going to try and do less surfing, and more praying.

      • @Stephen M: It’s no secret I am an old eccentric and eclectic Irish Brit, with no doubt my own theological pattern, being perhaps more “biblicist” than anything else. Though I am glad for my theological education, it was God’s providence. But, I can run with most of them, especially today! I don’t respect theology today, as much as the past! Btw, try reading some Georges Florovsky, or even some Sergius Bulgakov, though the latter might “pickle” the brain a bit! ;)

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr. Robert (irishanglican), You mentioned, “being perhaps more “biblicist” than anything else”. Hope you get a chance to check out this recently published work–The Apocrypha, The Lutheran Edition with Notes (Concordia Publishing House, 2012). A modern scholarship magesterial work on these books of the bible that are used and respected by Anglicans, EOs, RCs, and even Lutherans. Uses the expanded ESV OT (Oxford University Press, 2009) and is the follow up to their previous The Lutheran Study Bible (2009). As they state, an attempt by Lutheran scholars to re-expose Lutherans to the historical, theological, and liturgical value of these books.

      • @Michael: Yes, I have the older Cambridge KJV Leather Bible with the Apocrypha, as too the RV Apocrypha in Oxford hardback. Being an Anglican, and one time Anglo-Catholic, I have read the Apocrypha quite often, I like the so-called Wisdom Books, Ecclesiasticus and Sirach, especially. But I take the classic Anglican position towards the Apocrypha, as I am sure you know, seeing the Anglican Article VI, Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation.

        Btw, I have the both the older NIV Lutheran Study Bible (Concordia), and the newer one, but I don’t have the Lutheran Apocrypha. Usually too, now I read the Apocrypha in the NRSV. And I have too, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, (Sir Benton).

        Bw, I have been trying to get a copy of the ESV Apocrypha or OT, Oxford, for our blog host (sometimes I get free stuff, or trade). I don’t have this yet, but I have seen a copy.

        My statement as a “biblicist” is of course more practical and even theological, as my authority is always as the Reformed say it, with sola Scriptura! Note, I am basically Low Church as an Anglican, though I do love the more simple sense of Anglican liturgy, and as I have said here many times before: I am closer to Luther on the Eucharist, with too Augustine, and the Anglican Articles on Word & Sacrament.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr Robert, Yes, I suspect you are one of a kind! I can never tell if you’re more of a Lutheranist Calvinist Evangelical Anglican or a Calvinistic Lutheran Evangelical Anglican (of which both include the appropriate amount of Augustinian and scholastic), but if I had to bet I’d put my money on the former over the latter. I’m more of a Melanchthonian Laudian Wesleyan Western (Eastern) Orthodox, myself. :)

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr Robert, I have all of those you mention. You might also acquire the Orthodox Study Bible (OSB, 2008) and the New EnglishTranslation of the Septuagint (NETS, 2007). The former uses the NKJV as the “basis” for its Septuaginatal translation, while the latter uses the NRSV.

      • Hey thank you Michael! YOU are one of the few that gets me somewhat, as our blog host Fr. S., though I am sure he too wonders sometimes, which is it? Eccentric or eclectic? I mean comes first! ;) But in reality only God knows? lol I have been at this biblical and theological thing for over 40 years! But most of all, I simply love God In Christ! WE will cast it all, and ourselves before HIM! (Rev. 4: 9-10-11)

        And btw, I do have the OSB (2008), and the New English Septuagint (NETS, 2007). I had forgtten about the latter. I do need to look more at it! I did get to hear Peter Gillquist (RIP) once (back in the 80’s… as I remember) during a visit then to the US. I think this was in California somewhere? My younger brother was an American Marine in the 80s.

      • Btw, thanks to share some of “your” theological place! Now your in for it! All the blog world knows you too are somewhat “eclectic”! ;)

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr Robert, Aren’t we all a bit eclectic? My list would be pretty long. One of my fav “heavy” theologians is the RC Molina; talk about trying to get your head around the concept of an all-knowing God knowing ALL potential outcomes, not just the ones that happen! And I’m a huge admirer of the eminently Orthodox, yet only semi-Augustinian, trio of Sts. John Cassian, Vincent of Lerins, & Faustus of Riez. But also modern thinkers like Pelikan, Outler, and Piepkorn. [I met Fr. Gillquist (memory eternal) around 1996 in Kansas City, a couple years after I got out of USAF (my son is now USN). A wonderful day of lectures on evangelism. Go figure! :) ]

      • “Jakeers!”… My list would also be so very long! And I too have read my share of the EO! On the more simple level, I read and still have Timothy Ware’s book: The Orthodox Way, and here too I would place somewhat Vladimir Lossky’s book: The Mysteical Theology of the Eastern Church. But Bulgakov really was a run and fun! I am not one of course for Luis de Molina, the old Jesuits could prove just about anything they wanted! The scientia media (middle knowledge), oh those “what choices we could make in any given circumstance”, would drive anyone crazy! I prefer the doctrine of simply GOD’s profound Sovereignty! Now that I can at least somewhat get my head around, but better.. the worship of a Holy God! Though I do like a biblical sense of Protestant Scholasticism! And yes, here one of my favorites is Richard Muller! (Oh my.. I remember reading some Roman Catholic Scholasticism as a 20’s Benedictine, just a few years, ugh! Interesting, but later Luther hammered that for me! ;) ) But you have my prayers reading Molina! lol

        Btw, love the Wesley brothers! If you ever get a chance, see and old OP book: John Wesley on the Sacraments, A Theological Study, by the old Norwegian, Ole E. Borgen. My copy is a 1972 Abingdon hardback, but printed in Switzerland. The best, and most friendly book on the Sacraments for Wesley I have read! Of course this book includes some of Charles Wesley’s hymns, in the quest. Love his hymns! I love older Hymnology btw, and my greatgram was a PB (Plymouth Brethren). Brethren hymnology! Did you know my last name was Darby? No relation to JND however. William Cowper comes to mind.. the Olney Hymns with John Newton! (Course there were Anglican and not PB’s).

      • Continental Catholic says:

        @ irishanglican: “what the heck are you trying to say?”
        You frequently boast that you know Catholic teaching. But by saying “There are some of us that believe only God can forgive sin” (and thus implying that Catholics don’t) you demonstrated your ignorance. Every penitent leaving the confessional hears “Go in peace, for THE LORD has taken away your sins.” Hence, I asked, somewhat rhetorically, whether you meant yourself by “some of us”, ‘cause we Catholics certainly do believe that only God can forgive sin.

      • CC, You are the one spoiling for a fight, if you read closely what I said, I said the Bible does not make a man the “sacramental vessel”, or “priest” to forgive sins! Its just about that simple! See btw Luther’s difference here, though I myself follow Calvin more here than Luther as I have said elsewhere. Hey, get in the “theological” and biblical ballgame here mate! Don’t take things so personal, these are “theological” differences, between the Reformational/Reformed and “Catholics”.

      • Btw, let me recommend a nice book near this whole subject: A Reformation Debate, John Calvin / Jacopo Sadoleto, by Baker Books. These are taken from the personal letters from both Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans, and then Calvin’s reply to Sodoleto.

      • And btw, for those who care to see what, how and why the Reformed Church believes what its believes, at least as John Calvin saw and believed it, they should read Calvin’s Second Volume of his, Calvin’s Institutes, Books III.XX To IV.XX….The Way We Receive The Grace of Christ, to Book Four: The External Means Or Aids By Which God Invites Us Into The Society of Christ And Holds Us Therein… The True Church With Which As Mother Of All The Godly We Must Keep Unity… The Holy Catholic Church, our mother… Means of Grace: Holy Catholic Church.

      • Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2. Edited by John T. McNeill, Translated and indexed, by Ford Lewis Battles. Volumes XX and XXI, The Library of Christian Classics, Philadelphia, The Westminster Press. (Vol. 1 and 2)

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr. Robert & CC, Don’t forget that Luther and Lutheranism have preserved auricular confession. You can clearly see it in the current service books for the ELCA and LCMS in USA. And they have to; it isn’t something they can choose not to provide for officially as Lutherans, as it is doctrinal in nature. See Augsburg Confession (Art. XXV) and the Apology (Art.XI-XII), and Luther’s “A Brief Exhortation to Confession” in his Large Catechism. It may not be quite the same exact “thing” as for RCs, but it is there nonetheless. [And if I had to grossly oversimplify, where Rome's tends toward mechanistic legal accounting, Augsburg's is more voluntary therapeutic counseling, and Constantinople leans toward medicinal/medical treatment. I guess each has its pluses and minuses. Sadly, the sacrament seems to be withering in all three communions in the Western world (where pop psychology and the denial of evil and sin are so prevalent)?]

      • @Michael: Yes, see obviously I noted “Luther” here, though not so much Lutheranism. Note in Bonhoeffer’s chapter on this in his book: Life Together, and it is simply pastoral. Again, I stand with Calvin here! With Calvin, I don’t see a “sacrament” here, though again the pastoral element to present and express the Gospel itself, is central. And again here the need is the pastor as teacher, biblical and theological! If pastors did their work, (1 Tim. 5: 17) then the Body of Christ would be more healthy!

      • And btw Michael, NOT reading Calvin’s Institudes, especially volume two, is a loss to my mind for any pastor-teacher! See too btw a nice book: The Structure Of Sacred Doctrine in Calvin’s Theology (originally published in Dutch, 2003, written by material from Frans H. Breukelman (1916-1993), but brought together by a later generation of his students. This book is an Eerdman’s 2010, edited by Rinse H. Reeling Brouwer, associate professor of the history of Christian doctrine at Protestantse Theologische Universiteit, Kampen, the Netherlands.

        Note too, btw, that a few Roman Catholic scholars are now (and have been for a over a decade or two) studying the writings and theology of John Calvin). And see too, an even older work in English, by the Roman Catholic priest and theologian: Alexandre Ganoczy, and his book: The Young Calvin, the American Edition, Westminster Press 1987 (translated from the French in 1966!) I have this nice work, it was a sweet read! (408 pages with footnotes)

      • *Institutes (My type is poor!)

      • @Michael,

        This is a nice link on Calvin and Baptism, Sacrament..etc., and from a FV, or Federal Vision ministry (Rich Lusk). (I am FV friendly, though too, I can be critical!)

        http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/calvin-on-baptism-penance-absolution

      • Yes, I am seeking to make a friendly, but theological challenge to all my High Church friends here, Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox! Can we dialogue, and without giving up our faith and theological positions? I hope so?

      • Btw, just a point, but outside of Mr. Michael Frost (for the main), I have not seen much of a dialogue here, especially with the Ordinariate people, and certain Roman Catholics! Of course aside from Ms. Margaret! One of our most spiritual people here! :) But, this blog com box has been a sad condition! And let me remind some people, that criticism is not, and need not be seen as just negative, but is really part of the search for truth! And hopefully for all of us! Note once again, as I have said, I have always been something of the odd man out here, being perhaps the only constant evangelical and reformed Anglican voice! As poor as it might be, this has been my position, and it will continue to be! :)

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr. Robert, As a long-time subscriber to each, I heartily recommend both Touchstone and First Things magazines (both published in USA). Each is seriously ecumenically minded but expects both its readers and its writers to be articulate about their faith without compromising their core beliefs. The final products respect the dignity and worth of all without being wishy-washy.

      • @Michael: I sometimes read ‘First Things’. But, perhaps my Reformed and Calvinist side is really my overall position, theologically. Though I read and have Luthers Works, but Luther is not of course the systematic theologian (but I love him personally, and always his “theologia crucis”!) But, both Calvin and Luther miss the fact that “Israel” was and is God’s “Covenant” People! Indeed some real form of “Dispensational” theology (more the PD, “Progressive” for me), is absolutely hermeneutical! Note, again Rom. 15: 8-12 ; 15-16, etc. noting verse 20. St. Paul is truely the Apostle to the Gentiles! And in some profound covenantal-dispensational way. Romans 15 is a profound chapter! See btw, Bock & Blaising work on The Dispensations of Biblical History – St. Paul’s use of the terminology of “oikonomos” and “oikonomia”, (their book: Progressive Dispensationalism, see chapter 4, Dispensations in Biblical Theology).

  4. Ioannes says:

    There are as many abusers of children elsewhere as in the Church. Pedophiles take any chance they get. In fact, it’s more likely for public school teachers and family members to abuse children than the Catholic parish priest.

    What I hate is how the Catholic Church is now characterized by these scandals rather than viewing these scandals as abnormal in the Church. It is characterized so by the media, by ignorant people spreading their stupidity, and by people who are desperate to find any reason to hate the Catholic Church so they feel comfortable in rejecting the Catholic Church.

    In fact, if you’re going to look for institutionalized pedophilia, go look at Islam. Go look at arranged marriages between old men and 8-year-olds in other cultures.

    Surely, the Loving, Tolerant, and Honest, liberal, anti-Catholic Crowd will bravely attack the different cultures they seek to defend in this great multicultural society, even the ones that blatantly say pedophilia IS a part of their culture! Maybe it’s a different issue when homosexuality is a part of their culture, eh? Maybe they’ll be the sad, persecuted group, complete with the sad violin playing whenever they talk about being persecuted because of their sexual love for their own gender.

    Talk about hypocrisy! Attack one group for sexual deviance, and defend their own sexual perversions!

  5. Margaret says:

    It would seem less problematic and more forthright and prudential if the Priest, upon hearing the confession of a ‘child-abuser’, would REFUSE Absolution to the Penitent–UNTIL and not before he (the penitent) conscribed himself to the civil authorities. This way Justice would be served–Spiritualy and Temporaly: First, the Penitent should not receive Absolution for such a “Grave Matter” UNLESS he paid the lawful consequenses of his unjust actions, i.e. the Penitent would ‘turn himself in as guilty’ to the civil authorities (the millstone would be tied about his neck, rather than lose his Soul) . Second, the Penitient could then ‘justifiably receive Absolution’ and his Soul would ‘truly be Free’–of this Abomination.
    It would be then as Jesus said: “That which is in darkness will be brought into the Light”!

    IF the Penitnet was ‘TRULY remorseful’–as to want to confess such a grave sin/violation, than he should be humble and willing–in his desire of punishment–therefore, lawful atonement/expiation. He would also clear the Church of any hidden scandals and not cause Her shame and embarrassment–piling sin upon sin!
    For Healing to take place: That which is in darkness MUST be brought into the Light!

    • Michael Frost says:

      Margaret, An interesting thought, but I suspect one you wouldn’t consistently apply in all cases where sinners broke a significant civil law. Though wouldn’t it be interesting to see people go from confession to the police station to turn themselves in for rape, robbery, assault/battery, theft, murder/manslaughter, arson, prostitution, embezzlement, tax & other fraud, dangerous products, false sales tactics, racketeering, sale of illegal drugs, illegal gambling, and child abuse/neglect?

      And, most oddly, all the people who procure and provide abortions wouldn’t have to turn themselves in, at least not in USA, since abortion is legal. That would hardly seem fair?

      I suspect Christian churches would be far better served if they consistently reminded their members, in no uncertain terms, that evil exists, we all sin/we are sinners, we can’t save ourselves, we must repent of our sins, and we need a savior. Focus on the sin and repentence! Seems like so many Christians have forgotten about sin and their own personal responsibiility for same, and thus they can’t repent since they view themselves as victims or blameless. Triumph of Freud and modern psychology/psychiatry?

      • Ioannes says:

        Yep. Now, we faithful Christians who fear and love God either can watch “post-christian” civilization disintegrate or save as many souls as possible.

        Abortions and homosexuals don’t exactly produce human life.

      • Margaret says:

        Michael: The Matter-at-hand here is that of ‘Priestly Pedophilia’–a matter most grave– a Pro-Life Issue really – with far reaching consequences–within the heart-of-the-church: the Credibility of the Church and Her Teachings, the Credibility of the Holy Priesthood, the disruption of Church Life and Family LIfe in the betrayal, mistrust/disturst/fracture of Human Relationships etc. And most of all–the ‘Salvation of Souls’ is at stake AND the precarious precipice where the ‘Soul of the Priest’ hangs in balance (he is already in the grip of Satan as a pedophile). It strikes at the very ‘Heart of the Church’ – therefore, at the very ‘Heart of Christ’!!
        To ‘lump-it-in’ with an array of every and all other civil disorders/violations is to make mincemeat of the Holy Priesthood–it does ‘put a feather in the Devil’s hat’–because that is just where he would like to have the ‘Pristine Holy Bride of Christ’–right down there in the miry-muck with every other evil he can concoct. It has been said (the Saint’s name escapes me): “the Devil’s greatest trophy is to bring down the Soul of a Priest”!

        Also, it would indeed be ‘right and just’ IF everyone who committed those civil/moral violations you mentioned above first make suitable amends ‘before receiving Absolution’. I recall Fr. John Corapi once gave an example of hearing a confession (this was not a civil violation though) of a young man who wanted to get married in the Church and so “get right with God”. When Fr.John asked him “when are you going to move-out from living with your girlfriend?”, the young man replied: “well, we’re getting married so it’s OK, right”. Fr. John then replied: “NO it isn’t! When you move-out and are committed to a chaste relationship then come back and I will give you Absolution and NOT before”. The cart doesn’t pull the horse!

        Yes, “focus on the sin and repentence”, BUT just talking about sin and repentence doesn’t cut it–the Priest MUST probe, challenge and convict the Penitent–in Confession (like Fr. J. Corapi did). One MUST be held Accountable–if there is ‘True Remorse of Conscience with a Firm Purpose of Amendment!!

      • Michael Frost says:

        Margaret, The primary issue of the article is child abuse in general, not just child abuse by RC priests. Issue of any individual, layman or priest, confessing to child abuse. This is a church-state issue. Western common law has protected both marital and confessional statements (e.g., state couldn’t force a wife to testify against her husband or a confessor by way of a penitent), and this has mostly also been written into the statute books, too. Now state interested in changing this concept.

        The church-church issue arises when a RC priest tells his spiritual confessor in the confessional that he has abused a child. This is where a church needs to have some process by which it deals with such revelations in a way that respects the confessional protects children and holds the priest accountable. The problem is how to square such a circle or is it circle such a square?

      • Margaret says:

        “…respects the confessional protects children and holds the priest acccountable. The problem is how to square such a circle or is it circle such a square?”

        Sounds like the infamous ‘catch 22′ — the Devil’s favorite formula for making…
        weary the wary and wareout the worn! Too many Pharisaical chefs stirring the Legalist broth:

        The Truth is always the Truth
        And a Lie is always a Lie;
        Protecting the latter
        In the Truth of the matter
        Makes for an inverted and noxious pie.

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