Archbp. Hart (Archd. Melbourne) fights for the Seal of Confession against anti-Catholic statists

From ABC:

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart stands by confessional despite abuse recommendationsThe Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne has stood by the church’s stance [good grief] on keeping information on abuse gained through the confessional secret, despite a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry recommending withholding information relating to child abuse be criminalised. [In other words, they want to criminalize protecting the Seal of Confession.]

Denis Hart says he supports all 15 recommendations made by the inquiry into institutional child abuse, but he will not commit to implementing them in full.

Archbishop Hart was speaking to the media hours after a parliamentary committee tabled recommendations that would criminalise the withholding of information relating to child abuse.

There is no exception within the recommendations for keeping information gained through the confessional secret, but the document does point out that evidence gathered in the confessional would be exempted under the existing evidence act.

“The confessional in the Catholic Church is sacrosanct,” Archbishop Hart said.

[...]

Expect more of this in the future.

 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Clerical Sexual Abuse of Children, Dogs and Fleas, Fr. Z KUDOS, GO TO CONFESSION, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Archbp. Hart (Archd. Melbourne) fights for the Seal of Confession against anti-Catholic statists

  1. Legisperitus says:

    Now that residual Christianity is fading away, states are realizing the giant loophole created by pluralism, which is that there is no legal basis for distinguishing between the true and traditional Faith revealed by God Incarnate and some looney-tune “religion” dreamt up by a couple of fruitcakes yesterday. So the state will ask the same rhetorical question to both: “Why should we even recognize your absurd and arbitrary made-up rules?”

  2. RafqasRoad says:

    With a nationally convened royal Commission concurrently underway into this self same issue here in Australia, I would not be surprised if this ruling is once more called for. The sexual abuse scandal has damaged terribly the standing of Catholic Christianity and its institutions within our society; not to mention other institutions such as the scouting movement, YMCA etc here. points of faith practice such as the seal of confession are seen as nothing more than archaic obstinacy by non Catholics in leadership and even otherwise conservative Christian groups such as Sydney Anglicans (who are definitely not the Episcopalians most here are familiar with) take this stance. As the first commenter has stated, when we are merely one faith in many, areas of difference such as the seal of confession just do not make sense to legislators or commentators and Australia is held up as the international Pluralistic society success story.

    On saying this, one count of sexual abuse is one count too much and the devastation upon the lives of those impacted is often life-long and all too often fatal.

    We live in interesting times…

    Blessings,

    Aussie Maronite, soon to be South Coast Catholic.

  3. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Good on you, Abp. Hart.

  4. Johnno says:

    Can’t wait for all the wrongful accusations sex criminals will make against Fr. X. How’s the law going to prove it? Is it safe to assume our priests are guilty until proven innocent?

    You really think sex offenders will confess their sins openly to a priest who can report on him? Lol, no, and in fact now Father can’t encourage the confessor to turn himself in. Nice one Justice System. Maybe give us a call back when you finally bother to investigate all those charges of child sex trafficing and porn smuggling that goes on within inner circles of your local government and celebrity culture, Homosexual interest groups, including within corrupt law enforcement itself? Will abortion clinics be charged for covering for clients bringing little girls in for their services? Are they exempt?

  5. Supertradmum says:

    We shall see more of this…separating the sheep from the goats among Catholics. God bless this good bishop.

  6. Louis Tully says:

    I think it says a lot about their motives that no one is even mentioning confessional information pertaining to murder or other more severe crimes. In some ways I say a relationship between this and California’s failed attempt to attack the Church through it’s proposed statute of limitations extension that only affected private (i.e. Catholic) schools. The statists have found a means of attack that plays well with an under-informed populace and you bet your biretta they’re not going to stop this tactic anytime soon. No matter what the numbers say, just toss out “child sex abuse” and “Catholic church” and watch the media salivate (and the lawyers).

    I wonder how many decades of this we’ll have to put up with.

  7. Trad Dad says:

    The abuse in Australia has given the enemies of Our Lord a cause to use to destroy ( were it possible ) His Church . Our response to this must be governed by Charity to the victims & fidelity to the Church . We must hold fast to what is commanded of us . Archbishop Hart is well known to be faithful & orthodox . He has to have our support always .
    Perhaps a small side issue for the civil authorities might be that the confessional is anonymous so where is a gain to be had for them .
    Pax et bonum , from Our Lady`s Land of the Southern Cross .

  8. Scott W. says:

    An old saying goes, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. Now, I hope attempted assaults on the confessional seal will fail. I think they will because as another pointed out, it’s arbitrary to single out child abuse from other crimes, and also it lays a deadly precedent for other areas like doctor-client/lawyer-client confidentiality that I think will cause lawmakers to balk.

    But, to prepare for the worst. Obviously, if it comes to the choice of breaking the seal or going to jail, faithful priests must choose the latter, but I wonder if in response to any new laws the confessional could be made so anonymous or non-detailed that any information gained from it would be useless as evidence.

  9. anilwang says:

    Legisperitus says: ‘So the state will ask the same rhetorical question to both: “Why should we even recognize your absurd and arbitrary made-up rules?”’

    I think this is the heart of the issue, but it’s not the issue you intend to raise.

    You’re speaking as if the State is a grantor of rights rather than a tool created so families to carry out their vocation. Your question is a sure sign that the State has exceeded its mandate. Never forget the principle of subsidiarity. That’s the reason conscientious objection laws during war (even for atheists) were enacted and why silly prohibitions such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ restriction on blood transfusions are accepted (when not endangering the life of the patient).

  10. anilwang says:

    Scott W. says: “Now, I hope attempted assaults on the confessional seal will fail. ”

    Of course they will. If worse comes to worse, any bishop worth his salt will recognize that in 90% of the cases, priests do no know the identity of the people receiving the confession. Any attempt to enforce the law under those circumstances is bound to fail since there is way to prove that a priest knew who confessed to what or even that a confession was made. All that’s required is to bring that number to 100% by adding voice changing technology to confessionals or that priests hear the confessions of priests in other parishes where they would not know the person making the confession even if they saw them.

    Scott W. says: “Obviously, if it comes to the choice of breaking the seal or going to jail, faithful priests must choose the latter”

    The amazing thing about the seal of confession is that if someone confessed to poisoning the pre-consecrated wine minutes before mass and refused to make reparations by informing someone and confessed to embezzling most of the parish’s funds, the priest would not be able to use that information to save his life or stop the embezzler.

  11. Gaz says:

    Did I mention that I had the honour of being His Grace’s bugia bearer one year (mid 90s).

  12. JonPatrick says:

    Another reason for doing away with the “reconciliation room” and face to face confessions, and going back to the old anonymous setup with the screen.

  13. Navarricano says:

    I second JonPatrick’s statement wholeheartedly. In the face of these assaults on the sacrament, the bishops of Australia (and everywhere else) should take immediate action to protect both their priests and the laity under their care by putting an end to face-to-face confessions, ordering the installation of screens and confessionals in the place of reconciliation rooms, and insisting their priests take every available means to maintain the anonymity of penitents in every parish church, oratory and chapel in their dioceses.

    As others have pointed out, if I were a lawyer, a doctor or any other kind of professional for whom confidentiality is vital for the exercise of my office, I’d be very concerned about the implications of this.

  14. polycarped says:

    Trad Dad said: “Perhaps a small side issue for the civil authorities might be that the confessional is anonymous so where is a gain to be had for them.”

    A very good point – and hopefully one more incentive to return to traditional/anonymous confession practices as the norm.

  15. Peter in Canberra says:

    We would not be in this place if bishops especially, but clergy and others had acted with decency and rectitude over the last 50 years. Arbp Hart is right of course but if this disgrace had been dealt with more vigorously by his predecessors I doubt these outrageous suggestions would have the weight they have now. To our great collective shame, the Church is identified in the public mind as the protector of perverts instead of the champion of the abused.

  16. We went through this at the beginning of this Royal Commission as well. While it’s a real concern, the case for breaking the seal is a very, very tenuous one, which is why it’s progressed no further. In the first place, paedophiles apparently almost never go to confession …

    The late Fr Kevin Lee was one of those who said publicly how willingly he’d break the seal for things he thought should be passed on to third parties. May he rest in peace.

  17. PS Peter in Canberra is right. Like I said earlier in this article – sowing the wind, and reaping the whirlwind.

  18. Darren says:

    Soon, priests must be armed with the latest technology to sweep the confessional for bugs before commencing confessions!

  19. Legisperitus says:

    anilwang: You are quite right, of course, but a grantor of rights is exactly how the modern State sees itself.

  20. acardnal says:

    JonPatrick wrote, “Another reason for doing away with the “reconciliation room” and face to face confessions, and going back to the old anonymous setup with the screen.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth!

  21. MAJ Tony says:

    @anilwang

    RE

    The amazing thing about the seal of confession is that if someone confessed to poisoning the pre-consecrated wine minutes before mass and refused to make reparations by informing someone and confessed to embezzling most of the parish’s funds, the priest would not be able to use that information to save his life or stop the embezzler.

    I believe this argument is the long-standing subject of a dubium regarding the wine. Fr. Z might consider this a rabbit hole, but it does bring up an important point: what CAN the priest do?

    Regardless, it definitely makes the case for anonymous confession. As for voice modulators, I’d be wary of using those, because they could be compromised, being electronics gear.

  22. Neil Addison says:

    Whilst I agree that Confession should remain sacrosanct I do think that we need a more nuanced response than merely saying NO. Surely it is legitimate to say publicly that Priests have the right to refuse absolution and that the Church accepts that Confession does not relieve an individual of their legitimate obligations under Civil law.

    Bishops perhaps even the Pope himself should state that where a grave crime such as murder, rape or Child abuse is confessed then absolution should be conditional on the penitent surrendering themselves to the authorities and making a full Confession to them. If the Penitent is not willing to do this then they will not receive absolution.

    Clearly this will not in itself deal with the proposal for mandatory reporting however it should with the suggestion, made for example by Geoffrey Robertson in “The Case of the Pope”, that Abusive Priests were regularly confessing to child abuse, being absolved, and then carrying on.

  23. Neil Addison says:

    The amazing thing about the seal of confession is that if someone confessed to poisoning the pre-consecrated wine minutes before mass and refused to make reparations by informing someone and confessed to embezzling most of the parish’s funds, the priest would not be able to use that information to save his life or stop the embezzler.

    I’m not entirely sure this is correct I would think that the Priest is allowed to prevent a crime what he cannot do is to report or name the guilty individual.

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