Breaking the seal of confession

Jazzy

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New laws passed through Queensland Parliament will force members of the clergy to report known or suspected cases of abuse to police. The legislation means religious institutions and their members are no longer able to use the sanctity of confessional as a defense or excuse in child sex abuse matters.

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Please share your opinions about this new law...
 

tango

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Legislation like this always seems like it's walking an impossible tightrope between conflicting requirements.

It seems instinctively wrong to figure that someone can confess the vilest abuse of children to a priest knowing the priest has to keep that confession secret, regardless of anything else. On that basis it's good that the priest is required by law to disclose it rather than having to deal with conflicting requirements. The flip side is that it makes it less likely that a child abuser would confess to a priest and therefore less likely that they would be directed to seek the help they need. If someone who has committed a crime (of any description) knows that a priest is likely to (or legally required to) disclose it to law enforcement it seems the most likely outcome is that they either won't confess at all or they will confess in terms sufficiently vague that the priest would have nothing useful to take to law enforcement.

I remember some years ago there was a discussion I read online about problems of dealing with people who were sexually attracted to children to some degree. While there is entirely understandable revulsion at, and a desire to punish, people who abuse children the trouble with making too many rules too restrictive is that the people who experience such desires, who know they are wrong and want to seek help before they harm a child, risk being ostracised and punished and thereby less likely to seek help. If they have credible reason to fear punishment by mob rule it simply exacerbates the problem.

Personally I find it curious that confessing a crime to a priest doesn't trigger a requirement to report the crime, even if in the context of working with the offender to make whatever restitution might be appropriate. If someone is confessing what they have done it doesn't seem unreasonable to figure their underlying desire is to make things right and face the consequences of their actions.
 

hedrick

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I remember some years ago there was a discussion I read online about problems of dealing with people who were sexually attracted to children to some degree. While there is entirely understandable revulsion at, and a desire to punish, people who abuse children the trouble with making too many rules too restrictive is that the people who experience such desires, who know they are wrong and want to seek help before they harm a child, risk being ostracised and punished and thereby less likely to seek help. If they have credible reason to fear punishment by mob rule it simply exacerbates the problem.
Does your law require a priest to report someone who is attracted to children but hasn't done anything?
 

tango

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Does your law require a priest to report someone who is attracted to children but hasn't done anything?

Are you asking about my law or the new law described in the OP?

My point wasn't so much about what the law might require of someone when no crime has been committed and it's entirely possible that no crime will ever be committed, the point of the paragraph you quoted was simply to note that sometimes attempts to tighten the law in ways that would typically command much public approval may have undesirable side-effects.
 

jsimms435

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I think it should be their duty to report child abuse anyway, so that's great.
As a therapist I have to report abuse or neglect. I don't see why the rules should be any different for a priest
 

Bluezone777

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The only thing this will ultimately do is to bury the problem so it can't be seen if you don't dig for it which is enough for most people. People are more interested in having a perception the problem doesn't exist then actually solving it because it's easier to hide a problem then to do the work in actually attempting to solve it. The foolishness in hiding a problem is that the ability to hide it is only temporary and in the mean time t he problem becomes infinitely worse as opposed to just facing it when it started and after it has beocme infintely worse does the hiding attempts fail and now you are forced to deal with a even large problem then if you just didn't try to hide it in the first place.

You take away a person's ability to confide in someone with the assurance of privacy and those people will simply stop going to that confidant. You might catch a few while the law is new and not well known but eventually it will get around the law exists and the benefit will cease to be while the harm the law causes will continue onward. This law can even scare people away from talking about urges they have that they are struggling to not cave into out of fear that their confession will be brought to the authorities even if the law doesn't explicitly state this as the perception of the law will be what people see it as not what the law actually states.

I can understand why they would pass such a law but I don't think it's the best way forward in dealing with this very real issue.
 

tango

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I think it should be their duty to report child abuse anyway, so that's great.
As a therapist I have to report abuse or neglect. I don't see why the rules should be any different for a priest

The idea of the confessional being legally protected does create a bizarre situation.

It's weird that a priest who has a credible suspicion of child abuse is required to report it and yet if the same priest is presented with a confession of actual child abuse they are not allowed to report it. But then if confessed child abuse is legally required to be reported, breaking the secrecy of the confessional, why should other crimes be any different? And once that happens people are perhaps less likely to use the confessional.

All that said, I can't help thinking that if I was harboring a secret as ugly as a crime that would see courts throwing big numbers and phrases like "without the possibility of parole" I don't think I'd be too quick to confess it to anyone, unless I was ready to turn myself in.
 

Arsenios

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The atheist government of the USSR required priests to fully disclose the content of all confessions as a matter of national state security... It destroyed the Confessional of the Church in Russia - Nobody went to Confession... Ever...

To place the matter in secular terms, if every person is required to report suspected or actual crimes under penalty of Law, and is, for example, exempted from accountability for sharing his or her suspicions, the floodgates of accusations as a matter of 'expressing' one's anger with someone over anything, would be opened and we would have to open a whole new department of policing that does nothing but 'investigate' such matters... Divorces frequently contain charges of child abuse almost never prosecuted nor investigated... They are understood as punitive on the part of the litigants...

One priest was conducting 'sleepovers' with teens from his Church and took pictures of them, and it came to the attention of the Bishop... He came to a Parish Council meeting, confronted the priest, who confessed on the spot in front of all, was laicized immediately, given 2 hours to clear out his office, the evening to put his affairs in order, and told to report to the police in the morning and confess all he had done, and plead guilty to whatever charges they drew up against him, and submit to the court's sentence...

And he did so... Unto the Salvation of his soul...

Sadly, this seems to be the exception, rather than the rule...

Placing Ekklesiastical Authority under secular authority is problematic...

Ekklesiastical abuse of authority is itself problematic...

The issues are thorny...

A.
 

Andrew

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The atheist government of the USSR required priests to fully disclose the content of all confessions as a matter of national state security... It destroyed the Confessional of the Church in Russia - Nobody went to Confession... Ever...

To place the matter in secular terms, if every person is required to report suspected or actual crimes under penalty of Law, and is, for example, exempted from accountability for sharing his or her suspicions, the floodgates of accusations as a matter of 'expressing' one's anger with someone over anything, would be opened and we would have to open a whole new department of policing that does nothing but 'investigate' such matters... Divorces frequently contain charges of child abuse almost never prosecuted nor investigated... They are understood as punitive on the part of the litigants...

One priest was conducting 'sleepovers' with teens from his Church and took pictures of them, and it came to the attention of the Bishop... He came to a Parish Council meeting, confronted the priest, who confessed on the spot in front of all, was laicized immediately, given 2 hours to clear out his office, the evening to put his affairs in order, and told to report to the police in the morning and confess all he had done, and plead guilty to whatever charges they drew up against him, and submit to the court's sentence...

And he did so... Unto the Salvation of his soul...

Sadly, this seems to be the exception, rather than the rule...

Placing Ekklesiastical Authority under secular authority is problematic...

Ekklesiastical abuse of authority is itself problematic...

The issues are thorny...

A.
Hey Brother long time no see!
 

Arsenios

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Andrew -
Been away awhile, not posting much, talking to CAF some...

Mostly working repentance...

Covid19 is first and foremost spiritual warfare...

I am engaged in that war...

Nice to 'see' you again...

A.
 
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