1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured The confessional should be unsealed

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by JJ50, Sep 23, 2019.

  1. JJ50

    JJ50 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Messages:
    2,417
    Ratings:
    +1,138
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    I am of the opinion that if someone confesses to a priest a serious crime, they should be obliged by law to inform the police. Giving the miscreant a few hail Mary's is not going to absolve them of their wrong doing. For instance, if the RCC had cracked down on paedophile priests and reported them to the police instead of keeping the knowledge of their misdeeds in house, they would not have been free to abuse again as many of them did.
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
  2. AT-AT

    AT-AT Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2019
    Messages:
    3,832
    Ratings:
    +2,358
    Religion:
    I finally figured out what direction I should go, when I studied the revelations of the Baha'i faith
    I might agree with the reporting to authorities certain confessions, but it does eliminate the safe-zone.

    And do we really trust the people being confessed to to report crimes accurately?
     
  3. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Messages:
    3,504
    Ratings:
    +1,877
    Religion:
    None
    They should be obliged to follow exactly the same rules and laws as psychiatrists and lawyers. Any information relating to planned or ongoing serious crimes do need to be reported, though entirely historical offences don’t necessarily. I believe that would require a significant shift in the relevant doctrine though.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. rocala

    rocala Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    Messages:
    629
    Ratings:
    +448
    Religion:
    Buddhism / Druidry
    I understand the logic and sentiment here, as much as I, a non Roman Catholic, can. However I can see another side to the story.

    As a young man I did voluntary work for a phone-in charity. A fundamental part of our doctrine was that "no other individual or body was involved, except at the request of the client".

    The logic of this was that if we were known to provide information to others, then simply they would not call. I have never found a reason to doubt this. It is not perfect, but having someone to talk to can reduce or prevent further offending.

    I would also ask that people think of the other side of this coin, the listener. I once stayed on the phone while an incredibly nice young woman chatted and eventually died (apparently) of an overdose. I was heartbroken but it was pointed out that she called because she knew that we would not intervene. At least she did not die alone. I was finished after that and left soon after. Forty years later I still think of her a great deal.

    Talk offers a way out.
     
    #4 rocala, Sep 23, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Useful Useful x 1
  5. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Messages:
    4,063
    Ratings:
    +2,926
    Religion:
    RC (culturally at least)
    You have nailed it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. JJ50

    JJ50 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Messages:
    2,417
    Ratings:
    +1,138
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    Surely the most important things is to try to protect others from being harmed by the miscreant, and reporting them to the police is the only way to go about that, imo.
     
  7. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    We don't trust them; that's the issue.

    There are many priests who would go to jail rather than break the seal of confession who just won't speak.

    ... so let them. If a priest chooses to be an accomplice to a predator, he should go to jail. He should be punished personally, and the priest, his diocese, and the Vatican should all be liable civilly for the damages they enabled.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. JJ50

    JJ50 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
    Messages:
    2,417
    Ratings:
    +1,138
    Religion:
    Agnostic
    I agree.
     
  9. rocala

    rocala Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2014
    Messages:
    629
    Ratings:
    +448
    Religion:
    Buddhism / Druidry
    Source please
     
  10. Musing Bassist

    Musing Bassist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Messages:
    2,500
    Ratings:
    +1,114
    Religion:
    Catholicism
    That’s 2,504 incidents or allegations in the period between 1977, when the Uniting Church was formed, and 2017. This compares with 4,445 claims with respect to the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2015. And the Catholic Church is five times larger than the Uniting Church. Moreover, the Royal Commission did not include allegations in the period 1950 to 1977 with respect to the Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist communities which folded into the Uniting Church in 1977. This would take the number of allegations beyond 2,504, especially since it seems that child sexual abuse was at its worst in the 1960s and 1970s. (...) Allegations against the Jehovah Witness religion, on a per capita basis, are dramatically higher than for either the Catholic or the Uniting churches.

    — Gerard Henderson

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases#Moral_relativism

    Of course, that abuse was happening in other churches in no way absolves the Catholic Church, but it does put into question the narrative that celibacy and confession were meaningful contributors to what was going on. The institutional failure of the Catholic Church cannot be defended, but in my view the focus on confession is missing the forest for the trees. Institutions have a tendency to cover things up and neither a married priesthood or mandatory reporting would have changed that. Despite how things have been framed, the Catholic Church has no monopoly on the sexual abuse of minors.

    I also find it questionable to assume that most abusers were actually going to confession (at least honestly). Bad people often do not care about the morality of their actions. The idea that serial abusers were going to confession every second week stretches credulity.
     
    #10 Musing Bassist, Sep 23, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  11. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    While I think that we shouldn't be exempting religious ministers from normal abuse reporting laws, it's important to recognize that the Catholic Church's secrecy about the abuse scandal generally wasn't about the seal of confession.

    For instance, the Ryan Report in Ireland described many times when police received reports of abuse, but the police turned their files over to the local bishop and trusted them to investigate and address the matter internally.

    The bigger issue than the seal of confession, IMO, is the regard that has been historically given to priests and the Catholic Church as a whole.

    Children would be put in positions where they were vulnerable to abuse because parents considered the priests above reproach. When abuse did happen, parents were reluctant to report it out of fear of not being believed or being ostracized by their communities. When police had enough evidence to suspect a priest, the influence of the Church made getting warrants or actually prosecuting a case very difficult.

    Very little of the abuse scandal involved abuse that only the priest in the confessional knew about. The much larger problem - at least in terms of victims - was the regard and deference given to the Catholic Church.
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  12. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    From what I gather, the more common scenario for when abuse gets uncovered in confession is when the victim confesses.

    Especially when the victim is a child, it's very common for the victim to blame themselves, believe that they caused the abuse to happen, and consider the abuse their sin.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Musing Bassist

    Musing Bassist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Messages:
    2,500
    Ratings:
    +1,114
    Religion:
    Catholicism
    I could imagine this. But again the real issue was that the men (the bishops) who had the power to act failed to do so. They cared more about the immediate reputation of the church institution than actually dealing with the issue. Alas their inaction and cover-ups would end up causing far more damage than what would have ever been done had they laicized and reported the perpetrators as soon as it became apparent that there was a serious problem within the priesthood.
     
  14. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    Absolutely.

    I think I'm coming at this from a different angle than the OP.

    I don't think that there are a huge number of pedophiles who are being protected by priests because of the seal of confession. Maybe there are a few, and addressing the problem will help in a small way, but I think there are other aspects of the predator priest problem that are higher priority in and of themselves.

    Instead, like I alluded to before, I think that the bigger issue is with the special regard and influence - and sometimes special legal protections - that the Catholic Church enjoys.

    I think we need to get to the point where it's just as easy to investigate, prosecute, and convict a pedophile priest as, say, a pedophile soccer coach. In order to do this, social change is definitely needed, but we also need to get rid of legal exemptions and privileges that priests and the Church have used in the past to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions.

    I see the exemption for religious ministers from abuse reporting laws to be just one example of these special legal privileges that need to be done away with.
     
  15. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein ᛘᛁᛏᚾᛁᚴᚼᛏ᛫ᛋᚢᚾ
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2012
    Messages:
    28,456
    Ratings:
    +13,809
    Religion:
    Germanic Folk Revival
    As has been pointed out, this is a bad idea since people would just avoid confessing those things, and thereby cutting them off from another opportunity to remedy the situation (like the priest encouraging them to turn themselves in to be absolved or counseling them to stop their behavior).

    Someone brought up the therapy and psychiatry thing. I can tell you that people sometimes withhold information from them out of fear of being reported, too. It's very easy to lie to them. It's like if you're suicidal (or even homicidal), and they ask if you're a danger to yourself or others at the moment, you just say no so they can't put you in the psych ward. I know I do everything I can to avoid being put in the Netcare facility here, which is like jail for the mentally ill, regardless of my inner turmoil. I'd rather suffer at home with my pets by my side than in some cell.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    Another possibility:

    - the predator still confesses an assault
    - the priest still keeps it secret
    - the assault comes to light some other way
    - the investigation reveals that the priest broke the law
    - the priest gets punished
    - the Church becomes liable for an even greater proportion of any award of damages

    It wouldn't necessarily stop the abuse, but it would help to punish priests who decide to be accomplices after the fact and it might allow the victim to get more restitution money. All else being equal, those two consequences are a better outcome than the alternative.
     
  17. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein ᛘᛁᛏᚾᛁᚴᚼᛏ᛫ᛋᚢᚾ
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2012
    Messages:
    28,456
    Ratings:
    +13,809
    Religion:
    Germanic Folk Revival
    Anything's possible, but is it probable? I think it's much more probable that they just won't confess it, with my knowledge of how people lie and omit facts when it comes to healthcare to get what they want. I have no reason to believe it would be any different there.
     
  18. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    They lie and omit facts because they expect the person they're talking to will report them.

    The Church and many individual priests have come out saying that they consider the seal of confession inviolable, regardless of the penalty for maintaining it, so I don't think they'd have the same expectation that a priest would report what they said.

    ... but if a predator who's religious enough to care about absolution by a priest decides not to seek absolution for their sin, that might be okay, too. A predator who's that concerned with being in a state of mortal sin might not commit the abuse in the first place if he didn't think he'd be able to be absolved of it.
     
  19. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein ᛘᛁᛏᚾᛁᚴᚼᛏ᛫ᛋᚢᚾ
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2012
    Messages:
    28,456
    Ratings:
    +13,809
    Religion:
    Germanic Folk Revival
    So what are you proposing?
     
  20. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    55,048
    Ratings:
    +13,569
    Religion:
    None (atheist)
    Just what I've said: remove any exemptions for religious ministers from mandatory reporting laws.

    If it comes out in the course of an investigation that a priest violated their mandatory reporting requirement - whether inside or outside the confessional - prosecute him.

    Edit: and let the civil courts use the conviction as a factor in their judgments as appropriate.
     
Loading...