Confessing child molestation

ok so, i dont want to put anything up on here that would incriminate anybody…i know this is a TERRIBLE topic for conversation…but i was just browsing thru some threads and came across one where someone had said some things…idk…me being a very well rounded person picked up on some subtleties i guess you could say that got me wondering…instead of posting this on their thread, which might make them unconfortable if that is the case, i decided to open it up somewhere else…

So…child molestation…if someone goes to confession and confesses they have committed such a thing…and they repent…are they forgiven???

thats the big question for me…does God really forgive child molesters???

and as for the Priest…is he obligated to inform the authorities?? What if the act occured over 20 years ago?

The only sin that is not forgiven is the one you’re not sorry for. So, yes, God will forgive the person who sincerely repents of child molestation.

The priest is NOT obligated to notify the authorities. In fact, he would be excommunicated if he did.

Betsy

…However…(Hopefully) there is not a priest that would not make conditions.

Pedophilia is a sickness, and without the right help, will continue-therefore that would make the Priest (at least with God) an accomplice-if he were to absolve and send back out into the world.

That would be unethical.

In other words, this is serious and not something “finished” as in the sin of abortion for example. A Priest would not absolve the penitent and send them out with 5 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers.

I am sure there are some sort of guidelines. Ask Fr. Serpa (or your own Parish Priest). Fr. Serpa can be found here at CAF in the Forum: Ask An Apologist.

Absolution isn’t always given. St. Padre Pio sent many a person away either with directions of what to do next, or until they were sorry, or he allowed them to figure things out for themselves.

+Peace Be With You.

Does this totally scare the daylights outta anybody else??? I agree with the latter that child perversion is more like a disease…you dont do it once and say your sorry and its fixed…thats like a mental disorder or something…

that really is perplexing me betsy…and its making me worry…my daughter goes to church with me…what if she was molested, and the guy confessed about it, and I was never told?? how could i trust that priest??? doesnt he have to look out for the safety and best interest of ALL of his parish?? :confused:

big time :eek:

i think it should be some sort of social responsiblity to report it…right?? wow thats crazy…i never knew that…guess just another reason to keep your kid even closer to your side :frowning:

I think DawnInTexas stated it beautifully. I would like to add that I, like Charlotte, am a mom and the thought of child molestation in itself is enough to make my blood boil, but the fact that a perverted individual like that could go on his merry way without having to answer to earthly authorities as well as our Heavenly Father bothers me more than a little bit. Obey the laws of the land… Child abuse is against the law, a person like that should be held accountable and should not be able to keep on doing what he was doing.
It must be an awfully hard position for a priest to find himself in. :frowning:

It would seem many issues are being mixed here, let’s look through this:

repent is the instruction, so it is not in human hands

thats the big question for me…does God really forgive child molesters???

Either we trust god or we don’t so this is in god’s hands

and as for the Priest…is he obligated to inform the authorities?? What if the act occurred over 20 years ago?

This is a big mix of different issues 1) if a child is in danger the Priest will help the child as inform authorities the child is in danger, but not name the assailant. 2) if it was 20 years ago the Priest will counsel the offender. There is no authority for a 20 year crime of this type

if it happened 20 years ago and you had no fear for 19 years why be afraid now? If your fear is based on your knowledge changing then it is you who has changed not the situation. i bring this up for good reason, fear should be based in danger which is probably not warranted for a 20 year old crime/sin

that really is perplexing me betsy…and its making me worry…my daughter goes to church with me…what if she was molested, and the guy confessed about it, and I was never told??

If the priest or proper authorities came to you to tell you of the child being in danger would that not be reasonable?

how could i trust that priest??? doesn’t he have to look out for the safety and best interest of ALL of his parish??

YES, that is exactly it, if the priests are tellers the confession never happens! so by allowing the confession the child is in less danger than without confession. Without confession no one helps, with confession the Priest helps


i think it should be some sort of social responsibility to report it…right??

Once you start to report there is no more confession so the sins continue in silence.

Hope that helps understand the issue

I hear what you are saying, but are not true remorse and the intent to not commit the sin in the future the only conditions necessary for absolution of the sin?

Pedophilia is a sickness, and without the right help, will continue-therefore that would make the Priest (at least with God) an accomplice-if he were to absolve and send back out into the world.

I don’t think so. When a person who commits adultery confesses, we don’t expect the priest to let that person’s spouse know what happened. That does not make the priest an accomlice to the adultery.

Peace

Tim

Adultery is not a 1-sided assault on an innocent.

For instance, I know someone who committed adultery. His priest wouldn’t give absolution until he brought his wife in, and confessed to her. The priest knew them both. Husband had to agree to marriage counseling.

Therefore, he gave an option, and left it up to the penitent. There’s more to this, but this is it in a nutshell. The wife was crushed, but she had suspected.

They had to work hard-and they did-and stayed together.

There is nothing sexual (sexy) about a child. Pedophilia is a sickness. The child is not a willing contributor.

We have 2 daughters. We sat down at dinner each night, as a family, and discussed what happened during our day. The girls were used to telling us everything.

I watched them like a hawk for years.

We never left them with a babysitter until they were old enough to tell us what happened. And then we debriefed them each time. <-Still, this was rare-and we were taking a chance, yes. Our life was/is our kids.

I taught them “good touch” “bad touch” and what to do if they were uncomfortable (tell an adult-and keep telling until someone listened). Even mom/dad-cousin-grandma or grandpa were to be gotten away from if they were uncomfortable.

So, we loaded them up with information. Even played out senarios-where they practiced yelling “NO!” and getting away. I got pillows, and they practiced hitting and kicking. Then, we kept them on a short leash.

God Bless.
+Pax, -Dawn

Thank you Dawn, but I do understand that. It is irrelevant to whether or not the priest would be an accomplice to pedophilia if he does nothing once the confessed sinner leaves the booth.

For instance, I know someone who committed adultery. His priest wouldn’t give absolution until he brought his wife in, and confessed to her. The priest knew them both. Husband had to agree to marriage counseling.

Seems to me that that priest violated canon law and could face excommunication for his actions.

Can. 983 §1. The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.
Can. 1388 §1. A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; one who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict.

Therefore, he gave an option, and left it up to the penitent. There’s more to this, but this is it in a nutshell. The wife was crushed, but she had suspected.

By requiring the man to confess to his wife before absolution was granted, the priest directly violated the sacramental seal and therefore violated canon law and was automatically excommunicated.

There is nothing sexual (sexy) about a child. Pedophilia is a sickness. The child is not a willing contributor.

We have 2 daughters. We sat down at dinner each night, as a family, and discussed what happened during our day. The girls were used to telling us everything.

I am not supporting a pedophile and I think that the way you and your husband have raised your daughters is awesome, but the point stands. The confessional is inviolable. If a pedophile asks for forgiveness and is truly sorry and vows to not commit the sin again, he or she is entitled to absolution.

I wonder what the Vatican would say about the priest in your example.

Peace

Tim

I’m not trying to be argumentative, but Tim, I don’t really understand how the priest violated canon law. He didn’t betray the penitent, he told him that there were conditions for his absolution. Whether this was right or wrong is up for discussion, I suppose, but I don’t understand how he betrayed the confidence? He didn’t contact the wife himself, so the confidence was still intact, was it not? Or am I missing something?

Perhaps I’m wrong then, Tim. I knew all 3, and this is how I remember it being told to me (by my friend/the wife).

I still believe a Priest would not absolve a Pedophile, and send him on his way.

What would Father Serpa (CAF-Ask An Apologist) say?

+Peace Be With You.
-Dawn

Instead of the husband confessing to the wife, maybe he agreed to meet in the Priest’s office, and tell her there. Maybe he suggested this.

There was no absolution, as in the beginning of the movie, “I love you to death.” When Kevin Kline confessed, was absolved and walked out to repeat.

Disregard. I apologize. I’m done here.

God Bless.
+Pax, Dawn

That’s ok Snugglebugmom, I am not trying to be argumentative either.

If he required a confession to the wife for absolution to be given, it seems to me that he violated the canon law that I cited.

Whether this was right or wrong is up for discussion, I suppose, but I don’t understand how he betrayed the confidence? He didn’t contact the wife himself, so the confidence was still intact, was it not? Or am I missing something?

I am not a canon lawyer so I could be misreading this altogether, but by requiring the husband to confess to the wife before he gave absolution, he forced a person to make public the sin confessed in the confessional. It seems to me that he should have given the absolution and, in the strongest of terms, recommended that the man should tell his wife. Tying absolution to that confession means that the man had to make public his sin to be forgiven. That is not part of the rule and, in fact, seems to be a violation of the law.

I really didn’t mean to have this discussion veer off into canon law especially since I am not an expert. But I do think that we need to have a better understanding of what the sacrament of reconciliation is. Reconciliation is about our relationship with God, not with others.

Peace

Tim

I dont think that telling the guy that he had to confess to his wife would have been a betrayal of confidence…and withholding the absolution is like, motivation isnt it?? Theres a post right now, in a forum on this site…i commented on it a couple days ago…someone was saying that she went to confession, and confessed a sin that they had confessed several times before (apparently this person is having an issue with the temptation)…the priest asked if he was ever going to do it again…and they replied ’ i dont want to, and i am tryin not to, but…its hard’ the priest withheld absolution…well i guess that person cant par-take in the eucharist? i believe it is?? until they have that absolution…and the person was saying it wasnt fair because if he really truly is sorry each and every time, but…he didnt want to say yes, he’d stop, because he cant predict the future and didnt want to lie…

so i think withholding absolution isnt something out of the ordinary…and if marriage is such a holy sacrement, and those two people REALLY TRULY are UNITED as ONE…then how can you absolve him without including her?? isnt the marriage like, tainted?? idk…its like grey area…

but those are adults…and were talking about children…if a priest really would just, absolve a child molester…and never tell the authorities…oh well one could just as easily say that one could get away with murder in the catholic church…

I don’t disagree. There is a difference, though, between withholding absolution because the priest is not sure that the person is truly sorry and will try to not commit the sin again and requiring a public admission of sin for absolution to be given. What is required is for the person to be truly sorry and to promise not to commit the sin again. Period.

and if marriage is such a holy sacrement, and those two people REALLY TRULY are UNITED as ONE…then how can you absolve him without including her?? isnt the marriage like, tainted?? idk…its like grey area…

Well, if they were really truly united as one, there would have been no adultery in the first place, right? Except that we are all sinners. That is why he went to confession. I agree that he should have asked for her forgiveness, but that should not have been tied to his absolution. At least in my opinion and my understanding of the sanctity of the confessional.

but those are adults…and were talking about children…if a priest really would just, absolve a child molester…and never tell the authorities…oh well one could just as easily say that one could get away with murder in the catholic church…

One can get away with murder, as you put it. A priest is absolutely forbidden from notifying the authorities in the event of a murder confession if it is done in the setting of the sacrament. Doing so is automatic excommunication for the priest.

As I noted in another post, I am not an expert by any means on canon law and readily admit that I could be wrong. I have posted a question to Fr. Serpa regarding this so I am interested to hear what he has to say. I am going to ask my pastor as well.

Peace

Tim

Thanks for clarifying, Tim, I appreciate it. :slight_smile:

Wow…no really im pretty impressed…i had NO idea about any of that…

A priest could not reveal anything to the authorities, but he could make the absolution conditional upon the child molester fessing up and making amends. Part of seeking forgiveness is owning up to what you have done and trying to make amends. How the perv would have to go about doing that would depend on the situation.

What I really want to know is if a priest could demand that a penitent give up their 5th amendment rights.

St. John Nepomucene
……………….When the king was cruel to the queen, Father John taught her to bear her cross patiently. One day, about 1393, the king asked him to tell what the queen had said in confession. When Father John refused, he was thrown into prison. A second time, he was asked to reveal the queen’s confession. “If you do not tell me,” said the king, “you shall die. But if you obey my commands, riches and honor will be yours.” Again Father John refused. He was tortured. The king ordered to be thrown into the river. Where he drowned, a strange brightness appeared upon the water. He is known as the “martyr of the confessional.” He is patron of Czechoslovakia………………………….

We will see if the church chooses to canonize the priest from this thread.

Is ‘cannonize’ the term for discipline in catholicism?? Sorry…I just need a clarification once…

there’s cannon law…which is church law…

excommunication is when someone’s booted out of the church…

and to ‘cannonize’ someone is to???

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