Vatican tells Australian Church that seal of confession not up for debate

Seal Confession Abuse GreenLight

Title: Vatican tells Australian Church that seal of confession not up for debate
Author: Charles Collins
Publisher: Crux
Date: 05SEP2020

Although reaffirming the principle that the seal of confession can never be violated, the Vatican has told Church leaders in Australia that victims of sexual abuse should be encouraged to report abuse to the proper authorities.

Recognizing the question of the seal of confession “is one of great delicacy and that it is related intimately with a most sacred treasure of the Church’s life, that is to say, with the sacraments,” the Vatican said “the confessional provides an opportunity – perhaps the only one – for those who have committed sexual abuse to admit to the fact.”

The comments came in a series of “observations” to the August 2018 response of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Religious Australia to the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, published in December 2017.

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established in 2013, and four years later delivered its final 17-volume report and 189 recommendations.

The commission heard the testimony of more than 8,000 sexual abuse victims – of those who were abused in religious institutions, 62 percent were Catholics.

In its final report, the commission recommended that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference request that the Vatican consider introducing voluntary celibacy for clergy and end the seal of confession for cases of abuse, as well as requiring that abusers confess to the police before sacramental absolution can be given.

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