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Friday, January 27, 2023

Australia: law obliges priests to violate the secrecy of confession

The new legal provision specifically applies to cases of sexual abuse of minors.

Andres Alburquerque / Photo by: Twitter

A few days ago, a law came into force in the state of Western Australia that obliges Catholic priests to violate the confidentiality of confession if they receive information about sexual abuse of minors in the sacrament.

The rule, which extends to all ministers of worship of other faiths, is part of new legislation introduced by Western Australia’s Prime Minister Mark McGowan’s government since 2017.

As reported by Catholic Weekly, failing to report sexual abuse if he has information about the confession will be made criminally liable, and he may be fined up to $6,000 (about $4,000 US). Fine will be imposed.

In 2020, the Archbishop of Perth, Monsignor Timothy Costello, defended the secrecy of the Confession or Holy Seal before a commission in the Parliament of Western Australia, one of the ocean country’s six states.

The bishop acknowledged the “terrible history” of sexual abuse in history and explained his reasons for defending the secrecy of confession: “Sins are not confessed to the priest, but to God … The priest has no right to reveal anything.” has no say or authority over what happens in this intimate encounter with God”, he affirmed.

But, precisely, the legislative measure seeks to put an end to confession among pedophile priests.

However, Costello believes that “outlawing the free exercise of an essential aspect of the Catholic faith seems to me to be something that modern secular societies have always understood to be beyond the bounds of their authority.”

The Code of Canon Law establishes in Canon 983 that the seal of the sacrament or the secret of confession is inviolable: “The confessor is strictly forbidden to seek penance, by word or in any other way, and without reason. “

Similarly, Canon 1388 states that “the celebrant who directly violates the religious seal incurs (automatic) excommunication, a liturgy reserved for the Apostolic See”, meaning that only the Pope can incur the penalty of excommunication. .

World Nation News Desk
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