The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart has said that he will run the risk of going to jail rather than report what is said in the sacrament of confession, even if they confessed it refers to the sexual abuse of children.
Your last comment, made on ABC radio, were responding to a recommendation of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse to make reports of child sexual abuse allegations compulsory in the institutions, including when a complaint is made in sect. The lack of a report would be a criminal offence.
The archbishop of Melbourne, said that he preferred going to jail than to report child abuse heard in confession
The recommendation is one of a set of proposed reforms to improve the transparency and reporting of sexual abuse and the improvement of the law of the effectiveness of apprehending the abusers and protect the children.
Archbishop Hart did not report something that is said in confession of a child who has been abused or an abuser. Non-Catholics do not understand the confession, he said. The confession is inviolable, above the law, that is what makes it different from other forms of narration. Is the communication with God is of a higher order.
Like many Catholics, I spent my childhood in the fortnightly confession and, frankly, I don’t understand the confession. I remember the scrambled eggs light and a little creepy whispering of the priest in that little tardis of the shame that was sitting on one side of the church. I have the same penance every fifteen days with the same sins. I would say that I lied, I stole, because I couldn’t think of any actual sins. My penance was always a couple of hail mary’s.
The seal of confession, his secret, which was important, we were told in religion class in school. A priest was hanged for a murder he didn’t commit, because he does not reveal the true identity of the killer, who had learned through a confession. That is how tight the board. We have been surprised.
When I was 16 years old, I went to the confession of truth. I had been the victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic high school teacher and her husband. I went to see a priest at the suggestion of one of my abusers, because I was so upset.
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The priest saw me he gave me the absolution which does not make me less annoying. I can’t remember what the penance was. He did not do anything about what I told him that I know of. I guess he keeps the seal of confession, the highest order of communication with God in the person of the Archbishop of Hart. I wish he had done something, reported what I had said to my school, to the parents or to the police, because I would have been much less damage. What happened to me after that time has had consequences for the whole life. I was a child I had a son. The priest let me down badly.
I do not think we can afford to leave that Archbishop Hart and his colleagues make judgments about what is and is not informed when it comes to sexual abuse of children. In my life, hundreds of priests and brothers of children harmed terribly. People in management positions that I knew covered these crimes. What is done in relation to the presentation of reports should be simple and clear, and the external demand.
The confession is just as vulnerable to corruption as any other human activity. Ryan White excellent Netflix documentary series, The Guardians, was the sacrament of confession, which allowed pedophile priests to target the most vulnerable children through the use of the sins confessed.
The Catholic church is not above the law. It is not above anything. It is down here on Earth with the rest of us, and should be more concerned about protecting children from the protection of their practices.