Opinion: Breaking sacred seal of confession was a misguided effort

The controversial proposed California law, SB 360, was pulled by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Monday before a major committee hearing in Sacramento. He apparently didn’t have the votes, this time, to move the bill forward. So, for now, the proposed bill is dead. It would have broken the sacred seal of confession that Catholic priests have with their penitents as it would have required that they inform civil authorities when a fellow cleric or Church employee confesses the sin of child abuse during confession or as during any “penitential communication.”

Although every reasonable person wants to keep children safe from abuse, allowing the state to enter into the confessional booth would have been an affront to religious liberty, and it wouldn’t have solved the problem that Hill sought to solve.

First, Catholic priests are already child-abuse mandated reporters along with other clerics and professionals who work with children and families.

If a Catholic priest hears about possible child abuse during other conversations or observations they must follow current state law and report their suspicions to child protection authorities. The only exception to their mandated reporting obligation is during the sacred sacrament and seal of confession.

Second, there is currently no evidence anywhere that children have been abused by clerics after the cleric confessed to it during confession.

Third, while the clergy abuse problem has received a tremendous amount of publicity since 2002 following the Boston Globe’s investigative report, the incidence of abuse in the Church went from an average of over 600 new cases per year in the 1970s to about 12 new cases per year following the 2002 US Conference of Catholic Bishops Dallas Charter reforms to an average of one new case per year during the past half dozen years. The vast majority of clerical abuse cases occurred before the mid …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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