One of Australia’s highest-ranking officials in the Catholic Church has stated that he would “rather go to prison” than report pedophilia to police. I say, “Lock him up!
This is one huge difference between the CCIA and the Roman jurisdiction. Our priests are considered “Mandatory Reporters.” We believe that protecting our children against sexual predators is a pastoral responsibility that trumps the seal of confession! The CCIA believes that reporting information relevant to child sexual abuse to the police is critical to ensuring the safety of our children.
Australia’s Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart says he’s prepared to be jailed for failing to report child sex abuse by pedophile priests. What do you say to this?
He made this shocking statement in response to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse saying there should be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for clergy who failed to alert police of abuse.
Hart insisted that sexual abuse was “a spiritual encounter with God through the priest” and was “of a higher order” than criminal law. To this I would ask the Archbishop, what about Jesus’ admonition to against anyone who would harm a child? (Mark 9:42)
Archbishop Hart, who’s also the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, argued that the confessional seal should remain protected from the law, saying in a statement:
“It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognized in the law of Australia and many other countries. It must remain so here in Australia.
Churches within the conservative Old Catholic tradition take seriously our commitment to maintain a fidelity to what the Church has believed and practiced since the beginning. While a glance through the historical development of the practice and understanding of the “seal of confession” we note that the idea had developed for over 1000 years. It was not until the year 1215, when Pope Innocent III convened the Fourth Lateran Council that the following definitive statement was decreed for the whole church:
“Moreover, let him (the priest) take absolute care not to betray the sinner either by word or sign or in any way whatsoever: but if he shall need more prudent advice, let him cautiously seek it without revealing the person in any way.”
As the Churches in the Authentic Old Catholic tradition only accept as authoritative the councils of the early, undivided Church, we are under no obligation to implement decisions from more contemporary synods of the RCC.
It is our opinion that excessive abuses have occurred as a result of the Roman understanding of the “seal of confession.” The number of victims who have been harmed by clerical silence is virtually incalculable. It is our hope that by our particular stance on the sacrament of Reconciliation that children will be protected and scandal avoided.