Priests in Australia Could be Ordered to Report Confessions of Sex Crimes to Police

The Australian government is considering legislation requiring priests there to report to police cases of sex abuse told during confession. As was the case in Ireland when it came to such a law, priests in Australia are protesting against this proposal.

hmmm… my understanding it that nothing has been proposed in parliament. The suggestion is simply one possibility mentioned in an inquiry.

[quote=Courier Mail article]The inquiry was set up by the Baillieu Government in April.

The inquiry is being conducted by State Parliament’s Family and Community Development Committee, chaired by Liberal MP Georgie Crozier, with Labor MP Frank McGuire as deputy.

A guide released by the committee asks those making submissions to consider whether mandatory reporting rules should be imposed on the confessional.

“Should the sacrament of the Catholic confessional remain sacrosanct in these circumstances?” the paper says.

Isn’t the Courier Mail a tabloid?

Isn’t the Courier Mail a tabloid?
This story has been published widely in Australia. It originally appeared in the “Herald Sun,” but I didn’t link to that newspaper because users need a user login there.

Regardless of the truth to this particular article, it doesn’t change the fact that this is very real in Ireland. And what kind of law is that? It is nothing more than an attack to undermine the Church. Do they honestly think that this will put a dent in the victimization of children from people out there? Because of the stigma our society puts on crimes involving children, anyone who had committed such an act is not about to run to the confessional for absolution. I pray that Priests in Ireland and the world over continue to receive the graces and strength from God to rebuke these evil attempts to undermine Christ’s Church, and to stand firm always in the light of Christ found in His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I didn’t know that about priests in Ireland. I had to Google:
Irish priests say they will disobey new confession box law on child … . Or maybe:
I was saddened a few years ago when Bird Flu (or something?) epidemic in England caused the Church to capitulate to Health and Safety dictats that Communion wine was to be suspended and the host given on the hand and not on the tongue. I asked my PP why: it is not wine but the blood of Jesus and the host is His body. Incorruptible! He said, “you believe that, Ian; I believe it, but the Government doesn’t.” However I’m not sure if the Church capitulated or left it up to the Parish priest. I know some Catholic churches continued to administer the body AND blood of Jesus. I don’t know about the USA or other countries but here in England I am saddened by the number of worshippers who pass up the chalice.

A little off track for the thread, but surely if bread and wine is not corruptible and able to play host to bacteria, viruses and so on, it is no longer bread and wine, and therefore, under Catholic teaching, unable to become the body and blood of Christ? Bread and wine are naturally corruptible.

The Australian authorities may well order priests to report but they are debarred from doing so under Universal Cannon Law. There are very severe penalties imposed on Priests breaking the seal of confession for any reason. I think you will find that these are far more severe than the threats being levelled at them by the current Secular Authorities in Australia…

Belay that last word posted by me as Cannon - it should have read “Canon”

As was the case in Ireland, priests don’t keep a database of names and addresses of penitents.

The confessional seal CANNOT be broken. Priests would simply to to jail if the state insisted.

I, for one, hope that they get a confession from every pedophile priest in Australia. The Church is like a garden… you got to pull out the weeds from among the flowers every now and again.:mad:

What about attorney-client confidentiality? Why don’t the government go after the lawyers with the same ferocity like the Catholic Church?

I don’t believe I agree with Hokomai. The heavenly body and blood of Christ are incorruptible - that is, the essence or substance of the Eucharist - but the physical reality of it - that is, the accidents or appearance, including all that can be studied by empirical science - are not changed by consecration, disregarding a Eucharistic miracle.

As for the man who said the Church is like a garden, I often fall in to the same thought, and on this forum (and elsewhere) I have been advised to read this passage from the Gospel of St Matthew:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.”

So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, “Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?”

He said unto them, “An enemy hath done this.”

The servants said unto him, “Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?”

But he said, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

And maybe even a little more off track now . . . :hmmm: ?

Perhaps IanGE was referring to God in the Blessed Sacrament as being incorruptible - not the accidents of bread and wine as being incorruptible. If you understand “Catholic teaching”, are you also able to understand that your reasoning suggests/presents a lack of faith to us as Catholics . . .in that if we carry your train of thought a step further, you are in effect saying that Christ the Healer is a transmitter of disease ?

The Holy Eucharist - Source and Summit of the Christian Life

How would it even be proven anyway? The only way to catch a priest would be for law enforcement to go to Confession undercover, confess, and then see if the priest reports it or not.

Don’t they have better things to do? Like hunting down the real criminals? :rolleyes:

That is a very good point there… hmm:hmmm:

That would have to be the only way it could be proven. And the cops could be guilty of enticement to commit a crime. Practically speaking, it could never be proven.

In Australia, they might be able to.

My understanding is the area of confidentiality between a solicitor and a client, and the issue of privilege, seems to be different than in the US. For example, in Australia the police can seize a solicitor’s file on a client if the search warrant is valid. Privilege belongs to to the client, not to the solicitor.

And there seem to be other situations where disclosure of confidential information can be compelled by law.—Privilege

I may be off here, so I hope more knowledgeable persons will speak up. :blush:

I guess the best way for the Church to handle laws like this is to require ALL Confessions to be behind the screen. Anything that would be confessed, the priest would never know who the person was anyway.

I don’t know if it would count breaking the seal of Confession if the priest went to the priest and said “somebody confessed to such and such today, but I didn’t see their face”?

The substance of the bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Christ. But the accidents remain. The accidents are the physical appearances of any thing. The accidents of bread and wine are simply the physical characteristics which are perceptible to human senses. Certainly they are corruptible, as they retain all the characteristics of bread and wine.

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