Confessional: priests in the dock?

Crikey readers weigh in on the issues of the day.

Confessions about the Catholic Church Venise Alstergren writes: Re. "'A sense of unease and misgiving': Catholic abuse on the Tiwi islands" (yesterday). I'm just wondering if it occurs to anyone that the reason the Catholic Church is so full of priestly p-edophilia is precisely because of the secrets of the confessional? The very thing which Father Frank Brennan swears he will go to jail, rather than agree to a law which allows mandatory reporting of the confessional. Cardinal Pell is bitterly opposed to the same concept. Whereas in Victoria, our less than illustrious Premier, Ted Baillieu, has already outlawed this sort of coverage. So, a priest who is a p-edophile and confesses his crimes to another priest, will not be facing a trial because only the other priest will know about it. What a wonderful system. Not! Caroline Storm writes: Cardinal Pell was reported as saying yesterday: "The seal of confession is inviolable. [But] I would never hear the confession of a priest who is suspected of such a thing." The "thing" is predatory s-xual abuse and here His Eminence (if I were speaking, instead of writing his title, the irony would be clear) presents the interesting combination of a truth sacred to his church and a self-serving lie. Canon 986 of the Roman Catholic Church states "all to whom by virtue of office the care of souls is committed are bound to hear the confessions of the faithful entrusted to them who reasonably request confession". The seal of the confessional inviolable. The selection by a priest as to whether he will hear a person's "reasonable request" for confession is not. Please, can one of Crikey's writers expand on such a brazen statement? First Dog's foul mouth Alex writes: I am a big fan of First Dog on the Moon and in fact have been checking the Crikey shop to see if the 2013 calendar is available yet. However, I was a bit alarmed recently when I turned the page on the 2012 calendar to November and saw the word "f-cking" printed. I'm not going to be able to have this on display at work so have had to take it down for November. If you haven't yet finalised the new calendar, would you please be able to make sure there's no naughty words so it doesn't have to be censored at work?

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3 thoughts on “Confessional: priests in the dock?

  1. Brad Sprigg

    You know what should be inviolable? KIDS.

    Until that is the case, confession should not be treated as such.

  2. drsmithy

    I am happy to be able to solve Alex’s problem without the need to either take his calendar down, or require the rest of us to submit to his workplace’s rules.

    The first thing required is a pen – permanent marker, biro, it doesn’t really matter. The stationary cupboard might be helpful if one is not on hand.

    The second phase of this revolutionary plan involves taking the calendar down from wherever it is currently hanging and scribbling over the offending word(s) until their naughtiness is suitably obscured.

    If you wish to be particularly daring, you might even consider only scribbling over one or two individual letters, so the actual word is still clear to anyone who has made it more than halfway through a primary school education.

    Mind-bending stuff, I know, but a win-win solution for all.

  3. Carl Peterson

    The Church welcomes the Royal Commission and offers to cooperate because they know what will be the outcome – they will have a win. Furthermore they know that they will be allowed to play this by their own rules.
    For the majority of the people, when a man tells another man that he has engaged in child sex abuse this is a criminal admitting to his crimes and the person who was told has a moral and legal obligation to stop this from happening again, namely by referring to the police. Not so with the Church. When a priest tells another priest under confession that he is a child rapist, this is all fine. The rapist is good to go and do it again and confess the same crimes next week, next month, and next year. Why? Because they are above the law. The Church and its hierarchy genuinely believe in this special entitlement, that they should be allowed to address their crimes internally, using their own rules. It is obvious that any system or procedure that the Church will devise and implement to address this issue will have one fundamental and primary objective: to protect the Church itself. It is not plausible to expect that these people will set up their own demise, because ultimately the responsibility of these crimes rests with the hierarchy, the same people who is looking after the system.
    When James Hardie was found responsible for the asbestos problems, the directors were the ones facing the law; they were fined, lost their jobs and were barred from practicing their profession. It was not the workers on the factory who made the product or the crews who installed it that were found accountable for the problems. Every time there is a problem with an institution, the people who are at the top of that institution are the ones who face the music.
    In this case of child sex abuse by the Church, even though the cover ups and the movement of the priests from one community to another was perpetrated and orchestrated by the bishops and the cardinals, there is not one of them that will face justice. This is still happening now; Georges Pell has just made it very clear that the Church will continue protecting the paedophiles if they admit to their crimes under the seal of confession, whatever that means. His total contempt for the victims makes him the first suspect and the one that should be locked up first.
    After nine years of a similar enquiry in Ireland not one senior figure of the Church was brought to justice, they are still there doing what they always did and the Irish tax payers were left to foot approximately 90% of the compensation bill. This is after over 30,000 victims came forward!
    You would have to say that’s another win for the clergy. And so will be in Australia.

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