The former chief executive of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council which oversaw the Church’s response to Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has criticised the Church’s intractability towards amending protocols on confession.
In his address, “Challenging the cover-up culture in Catholic Church sex abuse cases”, to a webinar organised by Root and Branch Reform and the Scottish Laity Network, Francis Sullivan castigated the Church hierarchy for its “intransigence and relegation of the welfare of the child to the interests of the institution” saying it makes “a mockery of the rhetoric Church leaders mouth in front of TV cameras and in public inquiries”.
Referring to the scenario where a child tells a priest in the sacrament of confession that they have been abused, Sullivan underlined that the child is not confessing their sin.
“Yet the Roman Curia insists that this information cannot be shared by the priest under the threat of breaking the seal of confession, even though the seal does not apply to a child sharing information about a sin perpetrated on them.”
According to the safeguarding expert, “If they genuinely wanted to respect the dignity and worth of the child, they would find a way through the dilemma.” But instead, he said, Church leaders dismiss the proposal outright and play the culture wars card on the need for religious freedom.