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Irish Law Could Force Priests to Break Confessional Seal

From the Irish Catholic comes news that confirms just how far Ireland has fallen from its tradition of being the “land of saints and scholars”:

The Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children are all indicating that a proposed new law will require priests to break the seal of confession if someone confesses to them the crime of paedophilia.

This would make us the one and only country in the Western world to have such a law. Even Revolutionary France in the days of its worst violence against the Church did not pass a law requiring the breaking of the seal of confession.
The justification for the law is that the crime of paedophilia is so heinous that no one who hears about it, under whatever circumstances, can be allowed to keep it to themselves.

The last line of the article is ominous:

It says a lot about the present mood here that it can even be entertained.

Picking up from this thought, Fr. John Zulsdorf, captures the real motivation behind such a law:

And that mood is: Attack the Catholic Church, threaten the Catholic Church, intimidate the Catholic Church.

When our Catholic identity is eroded, this is what happens. As the night follows the day, threats of this kind will be made so as to silence the Church, whose duty it is to teach on many moral issues. You know the issues I am talking about. I suspect that this has more to do with hatred of the Church’s teaching office than it does with outrage over child abuse.

How will the Irish government reconcile this with the right to religious freedom in Article 18 of the ICCPR? Or will anyone even challenge them over it? And would would the Human Rights Committee that oversees the treaty even see a conflict?

[Courtesy of Turtle Bay and Beyond]


Terrence McKeegan is Vice President and Senior Counsel for the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), and serves as the Director of the International Organizations Law Group, C-FAM's public-interest law arm. He also serves as the Director of the Center for Legal Studies which includes the Edmund Burke Fellowship and the International Organizations Law Group.  As head of C-FAM’s New York office, he is the managing editor of the weekly Friday Fax publication and responsible for advancing C-FAM’s mission to defend life and family at the United Nations and other international institutions.
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  • patrick_omalley

    Brilliant. Kudos, Ireland.

    There is no question that the Catholic church has been raping children for decades, covering it up, lying about it, and ignoring the victims.

    They can’t be trusted to protect society from their own pedophiles, and for a long time, the laws of the land allowed the church to get away with that. The church shamelessly, recklessly, sinfully abused that power – not as individuals, but as a coordinated, organized whole.

    That makes them an organized crime empire as much as a religious institution.

    The church should start losing benefits, like “the loophole of confession”. They have long lost respect and trust.

    Pedophile priests proved that confession gave them the capability to rape children as long as they ran to confession afterwards. Some in the US in Philadelphia had sex with children in confessional. That’s convenient. If you close that loophole, and the priest knows that he has to confess or go to hell after he rapes a child, he has a big dilemma.

    Brilliant solution, Ireland.

    Pedophiles – want forgiveness from God? Go to prison on earth. You don’t get the benefit of God’s forgiveness for free. Priests – want to hide your pedophile priest friend? You go to jail, too.

    Enact the law. Let’s hope the US and every other country follows suit. The Catholic church concealed child rape for at least 60 years. Let’s let the government shut down the pedophile protection practices.

  • Kenneth Jones

    Nonsense. Fourth Latern adopted Canon21 (which see) and that was not the first mention of the prohibition, from what I read.
    If the law passes, priests will be held in contempt (if Ireland has such a process).
    The Seal of the Confessional is inviolable.

  • Requiring priests to break the seal of the confessional is a horrifying piece of anti-Catholic bigotry that cannot be justified for any reason. Heroic priests will suffer white martyrdom and go to jail before they divulge the contents of confessions.

    I think you also have to agree, though, that the Church has in large part brought this upon herself.

  • noelfitz

    I agree with Kenneth Jones.
    “The Seal of the Confessional is inviolable.”

    I would not worry too much about forcing priests to break the confessional seal.

    There is not much talk here in Ireland about forcing doctors and lawyers to break professional confidentiality.

    There seems to be three groups seeking to force priests to reveal details of confessions, those who are seriously hurt by some clergy and want child protection, those who are anti-Catholic and want to harm the Church and finally politicians and others who like attention and taking the spot-light off Ireland’s financial problems and the fact that out sovereignty has been taken away and decisions on our future are taken by the International Monetary Fund, the European Community and the European Central Bank.

    However please remember Ireland and the Irish, at home and abroad, in your prayers.