Irish Government To Make War…

on the Seal of the Confessional “for the children”.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Not gonna protect a single kid, only going to contribute to an already metastasizing surveillance state, ultimately going to make Caesar stupider than he already is since sin makes you stupid and attacking a sacrament is a massively stupid sin. Triple threat.

Has it occurred to any of the geniuses behind this law to ask how it is to be enforced? Do they want bugs in the confessional? If not, then how on earth can it ever be proven that a priest heard about abuse under the Seal? And if the problem is that crime is protected by the Seal, then why only focus on this crime? Why not bug the confessional in case other crimes are confessed as well? And why just the confessional? Why not violate everybody’s privacy all the time, just in case?

Look for more of this as the Police State continues to make war on the Church.

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  • Answering the questions about how this law will probably be used…

    The child molester is caught, and likely to be convicted on other evidence, not related to the confessional. As part of a plea deal, the child molester will mention that he confessed his sins to list of priests. Because of the seal of confession, the priests would not be able to defend themselves.

    Of course, no children will be protected by the law, but it will be a way to throw innocent priests in jail.

  • Rene Girard, call your office.

  • Opportunity for entrapment, pure and simple. Undercover gardai, wearing a wire enters confessional of some troublesome priest, confesses that he raped a young boy, priest grants conditional absolution if he confesses his crime to the police and surrenders himself. Priest doesn’t report the confession (since he can’t and still be a priest). A few days later (after whatever reporting window has closed) the priest is arrested, dragged through the streets, drawn, quartered and beheaded as a warning to other troublesome priests.

    It’s like the Irish decided to be the English….

    • Imrahil

      There is no conditional absolution. There could only be either absolution with the order to surrender himself as a penance, or withholding absolution.

      But that’s an aside.

  • Matthew

    Just a note: a priest CANNOT make public revelation of one’s sins a condition of absolution – the internal forum is sacrosanct.

  • This is just inane political posturing. The law is unenforceable. No priest will violate the seal. And no child will be protected.

  • Scott W.

    Is there any analysis of how likely this legislation will get passed? It seems to me highly unlikely because of the deadly precedent it lays for lawyer/client doctor/patient etc. In other words, it’s too hot for anyone to handle.

  • kenneth

    The Church in Ireland really brought this upon themselves, but the state ought to focus its efforts elsewhere and leave the confessional alone. I don’t know all the particulars of the scandal in Ireland, but to the extent its similar to what happened here, the confessional wasn’t the problem.

    The problem was with an entire culture of bishops for decades who covered up crimes they discovered through regular channels – victim allegations, internal investigations, admission by the offenders outside of confession etc. Unless the confessional seal was somehow a significant part of the problem, going after it will only serve as a distraction. It will also enable even the worst of enabling bishops to wrap themselves in a sick sort of martyrdom.

    The solution is fairly simple: Create a strict reporting law and hold priests and bishops personally and criminally liable if they fail to report. Treat systematic and widespread cover-ups as what they are: Organized crime. Deal out life sentences to those responsible and seize every personal and corporate asset that was used to further the crimes.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      The Church in Ireland really brought this upon themselves,

      Really? I thought it was the Justice Ministry in Ireland.

      I don’t know all the particulars of the scandal in Ireland,

      So which is it? Did the Church in Ireland bring this on itself, or do you not know what you’re talking about? You sound like a bigot.

      • Mark Shea

        You noticed that little contradiction too, did you?

      • kenneth

        Well let me clarify. What I’m not sure of is the degree to which “abuse of the confesssional” ie as a mechanism to thwart prosecution, was a factor in Ireland. I suspect little to none. I have no doubts about the overall nature and outline of the problem, which was and is a culture of zero transparency and accountability by bishops. You may or may not have noticed that I’m arguing against violating the confessional seal, because I don’t think it would contribute to public safety or address the root of the problem. I don’t think the authorities ought to bust the hump of the Church just to bust it. Bust it in ways that will actually do some good.

        Reflexively dismissing anyone who expresses disgust about this systematic abuse as a “bigot” will absolutely guarantee that the Church will continue to be defined by abuse for a long, long time, and will continue to have zero credibility as a moral authority on anything before the public at large.

    • Ted Seeber

      A small minority is not equal to an entire culture.

  • Ted Seeber

    Simple defense- since it’s illegal not to tell the Gardai what the priest heard in the confessional, then the priest not telling the Gardai that he’s not telling the Gardai what he heard in the confessional is the priest’s Right To Silence under the Irish Constitution (much like our Fifth Amendment in the United States).

    • kenneth

      The Fifth Amendment simply protects you from having to be a witness against yourself once accused of a crime. It is not a license to commit crimes and grant yourself immunity from them in advance. On your theory, no one would ever be compelled to testify before a grand jury or any court because their refusal to do so would put them at risk of contempt of court.

      • Ted Seeber

        Yes, exactly. If testifying would put you at risk of contempt of court, it is indeed your right to just say “I cannot answer based on my fifth amendment rights”. In fact, given the type of verbal mistake that leads most people into contempt of court, that’s probably the smartest thing they could say at that moment.

        Certainly better than my protestant brother in law, accused of bruising his child, claiming in court that he knew that a 6 month old could understand what he says because “The Lord Led me to That Belief”- begging the question from the judge “do you hear voices?”

  • ppeter

    The Irish prove once again that Catholic anti-Catholicism makes one stupid.
    They will never approve the strict measures kenneth advocates above, unless the law applied only to the Church. They would certainly never be made to apply to agents and institutions of the state, since they are our betters by definition.
    The purpose of this sort of law is to single out the Church and to paper over the vast social problem of child abuse, sexual and otherwise.

    • kenneth

      The measures I advocate already apply to virtually all sectors of society and individuals except the church. At least in the states, public employees like teachers risk jail and revocation of their licensing if they fail to report suspected abuse. Thousands of organizations which have engaged in even a fraction of the patterns of criminality as the Church in Ireland have been prosecuted under racketeering laws and other similar heavy-duty criminal law. To suggest that Ireland is culturally “anti-Catholic” is absurd in the extreme. This is a country and a culture that has been deferential, even servile, to the Church, for a dozen centuries or more. Irish governments and the public at large never even raised their voice to the Church before this hideous betrayal of trust.

      • Ted Seeber

        What about the Unionist government of Cromwell that practically made CCD classes illegal for 5 centuries?

        • kenneth

          Cromwell was not exactly representative of the Irish people or culture! There’s no question that English colonists had an anti-Catholic culture going on for a long time.

          But the Irish people, the Catholic Irish, were about the most loyal subjects the Church ever had in its history, and they (literally) got the shaft in return. This is a people that lived and died for that Church, and considered their national identity and Catholicism as inseparable and intertwined as electrical and magnetic fields. The Church there had to work HARD to alienate that population, and they did, and so if there’s an “anti-Catholic” vibe in Ireland these days, they did bring it upon themselves.

  • Observer

    What of a murderer?

    Suppose for some rash moment a man ended up kill’ing another man out of retaliation (not pre-meditated.) He may not confess his sin because of being aware that a priest will turn a confession over to the authorities. Worse, should he not get such a grave and offensive sin towards God and men off of his conscience (afterall, once someone commits a henious disordered action, he or she will be deeply disturbed – as most people do – of what had just happened. Why do you think they run away from the law? Fear. A disorder is observed by something deeply disturbing them – guilt – loss of freedom) – should he not get the sin off of his conscience, he may be so much brought to the despair of being so convinced his actions are in-escapable and will only proceed to possibly repeating the action again (which would be the terrible consequence of law and not the perpetuator of the crime.)

    A priest does more than merely taking a confession. With Christ’s Sacrament of mercy, he proceeds to counsel the person to rectify his actions to no longer sin (as Christ said to the lady who was about to be stoned by the Pharisee’s, “Sin no more.” In fact, the priests’ good notion is to have the person forbidden to return or recall the incident which to mortify himself with so much guilt he would never forget what he did and offend God’s mercy futher and worse. Because, by recollection and anguishing himself further and further upon which his sins were forgiven, the man may completely take himself from God’s mercy by complete madness (the anguish and despair upon a man’s soul never letting himself let go of his sins and further doing more wrong against God’ mercy. And as an end result, such an anguishing soul shall fall into the peril of sinning again – repeating the crime.)

    So, should the authorities push with the full extent of law to cause something much more worse and furthering more damage (because one ought to break the seal of confession) than such a given offense was commited by the murderer? If so, authorities would be compromising justice and doing much more grave and far much more worse danger towards justice (doing worse than the perpetuator of crime.)

  • Observer

    Breaking the seal of confession would be paralyzing the immediate sense and will of justice in getting the person to simply stop commiting a crime – period (because, at least in the person’s fallen will, he or she has made the immediate will to face upto his or her faults and the will amend themself to no longer commit the crime again.)

  • LaVallette

    When you are in the State financial poo that is Ireland at the moment, anything to deflect attention: even if whatever you propose in the blind panic is likely to be ultimately futile if not counterproductive. How many indivdiduals have been truned away from a life of crime through the grace and copuselling given in the confessional? How many will now cease to go to confession for fear of the lack of privacy enforced by law.
    What will be the consequences for priests who are accused but refuse to say yes or no, as they are bound to do by the seal of the Confessional? If it is to be imprisonment until he answers, then effectively an accusation automatically becomes the sentence. The quickest way to destroy the church is to imprison its priests. The Progressibe Brights are rubbing their hands in glee, and they will do it with their own perception of a “good” conscience because they will be saving the world from “ignornace and superstition”.

  • Shorter Kenneth:

    “Admitting my willful ignorance, here are rather a lot of my opinions! ”

    Can you say ‘ill-formed’, children? I knew you could!

  • Look folks – as I said above, this legislation is unenforceable. It also more than likely doesn’t have the effect the politicians enacting it say it does. I go into the issues in a bit more detail on my own blog if you want to take a look. But the bottom line is that no priest is going to break the seal, no matter.

    • … that is: no matter what.

  • Paul Moloney

    Funny how this blog deals with this issue in isolation. Like as if, I dunno, there wasn’t a history of the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland shielding abusers, moving them from town to town, and silencing and virtually imprisoning the abused.


    • Paul,
      I don’t think anyone is ignoring the context of this discussion. But the focus of this thread is protecting the seal – and with good reason. Not only will children not be protected one whit, but anything that even gives the impression of damaging the seal has the potential to discourage from going to confession … after all, if they think the priest may break the seal for one reason (which he won’t, but we’re talking about impressions here) he may break it for another … and there are real consequences if people do not avail of confession. We are talking about people’s immortal souls here.

      But please do not think that anyone here does not have due regard for the importance of child protection or is unaware of the terrible things that took place in Ireland and elsewhere – I have seen nothing on this thread that would indicate either.

  • Cojuanco

    Of course, there’s another problem for the Garda, especially regarding anonymous confessions – Father can’t exactly determine which penitent confessed to molesting children. How is he to know who’s on the other side of the confessional? Sure, he could tell if it’s a man’s voice, or a child’s, or even that it is a foreigner – but that’s overbroad in itself in determining a particular suspect. He may have some suspicion of who it might be, but mere supposition isn’t enough to overcome reasonable doubt, Ireland being a common-law country.

    All in all, it’s a useless law, except as a way to have the anticlericals and their allies sated.