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The Irish government is going to make it a criminal offence for a priest not to tell the gardai when a sex offender confesses his crime: I say, bring it on

A few dozen Irish priests in jail will do the Church nothing but good

By on Friday, 15 June 2012

Alan Shatter, Ireland's Minister for Justice (PA photo)

Alan Shatter, Ireland's Minister for Justice (PA photo)

“It has to be made clear to everyone, including the main Church in this State, that the rights of children and the laws of the land come first,” Senator David Cullinane was reported by the Irish Times as saying earlier this week in Seanad Éireann. “Priests should know that they cannot use the confessional seal as a reason for not coming forward with information on abuse.”

And that is what the government of the Irish republic has now reaffirmed. According to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, if a priest or a bishop, prosecuted under the legislation he intends to introduce, were to claim entitlement to “some form of privilege”, the courts might be called on to decide the issue, since the special position of the Catholic Church has been removed from the Constitution. He did not, he went on, believe that where a child or a vulnerable adult had been a victim of abuse, the Irish courts would hold that it was “of benefit to the State” that those who knew of the abuse should conceal it.

And so, there we are. They are really going ahead with this. Last month, Shatter announced the publication of his bill, which will make it a criminal offence for a priest who learns while hearing a confession about a case or cases of child abuse, from the abuser himself, not to break the seal of the confessional and inform the civil authorities of what he knows. The Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill is, says the Irish government, one element of a “suite of legislation to protect children and vulnerable adults to which the Government is committed”.

It is the classic tension between the law of the state and the law of God: we are back, in Ireland of all places (Ireland, semper fidelis, Pope John Paul ironically called it), to Becket and Henry II. But the problems the Irish State is going to have with this legislation will not be solved by moving against one or more troublesome priests who resist it: the divided Irish Church will be as one in resisting it: not one single priest will obey it. Even the ultra-liberal Association of Catholic Priests has condemned the proposed legislation: “I certainly wouldn’t be willing to break the seal of Confession for anyone,” was the reaction of Fr Sean McDonagh, one of the ACP’s leaders.

Of course he wouldn’t. It’s the one thing no Catholic priest would ever do; it’s in the basic DNA of the priesthood. According to article 1467 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears Confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that Confession gives him about penitents’ lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the ‘sacramental seal’, because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains ‘sealed’ by the sacrament.”

Those “very severe penalties” are severe indeed, as severe as it gets: the Code of Canon Law is very clear: “A confessor who directly violates the seal of Confession incurs an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See”: that means that he loses the most precious things in his life: he loses both the sacraments of the Church and the exercise of his priesthood, and also that these things can be restored to him only by the Pope himself. As Fr William Saunders puts it: “A priest … cannot break the seal to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to aid the course of justice (like reporting a crime), or to avert a public calamity. He cannot be compelled by law to disclose a person’s confession or be bound by any oath he takes, eg as a witness in a court trial. A priest cannot reveal the contents of a Confession either directly, by repeating the substance of what has been said, or indirectly, by some sign, suggestion, or action. A Decree from the Holy Office (Nov. 18, 1682) mandated that confessors are forbidden, even where there would be no revelation direct or indirect, to make any use of the knowledge obtained in the Confession that would ‘displease’ the penitent or reveal his identity.”

We know that all, of course: but more importantly, so does the Irish government. So what are they playing at? Well, politics, of course. They want to back the Irish Church even further into the very hard place it at present inhabits, by making it look as though the Church doesn’t even want to confront the problem of clerical child abuse. “I would expect,” says Mr Shatter, “that if there was someone going to Confession who was a serial sex abuser, I don’t know how anyone could live with their conscience if they didn’t refer that to the gardai.” So it’s now a matter of conscience that a priest should betray his priesthood.

But suppose the clergy said they would inform on a child abuser? The child abuser wouldn’t be in the confessional in the first place if he didn’t want to face up to what he had done. And as David Quinn has pointed out: “No child abuser will go to a priest in Confession knowing the priest is required to inform the police. But cutting off the avenue of confession to a child abuser makes it less likely that he will talk to someone who can persuade him to take the next step.” The next step is himself to go to the police: it does happen. A confessor may and should try to convince him of that; but he will never get the chance if abusers are scared away from the confessional.

It is the very identity, the raison d’etre of the Church the Irish State is now bent on weakening: but this is a battle they will lose. In defence of the seal of the confessional, of the law of God over the law of the state, saints and martyrs over the ages have gone to their deaths. No Irish priest will lose his life over this: but if the Irish State wants to turn the Irish clergy from being perceived by Irish public opinion as perpetrators or at least collaborators to being seen (as were Catholic priests of earlier centuries, both in Ireland and also here in England) as victims of an unjust law, let it be so: a few dozen Irish priests in jail could both restore the Church’s reputation for self-sacrifice and integrity and even serve as a kind of vicarious penance for what is past, the innocent suffering for the guilty. If they really want a cause célèbre, in which the Church is victimised by the State, I say bring it on.

I have a small statue, which I bought in Prague shortly after I became a Catholic over 20 years ago, of St John Nepomuk, who might be described as the Thomas à Becket of the Bohemian Church. St John was the vicar general to the Archbishop of Prague. King Wenceslas IV, a dissolute, capricious and easily enraged young man, became suspicious that his virtuous Queen was involved in a sexual intrigue with a courtier. St John was the Queen’s confessor. Although Wenceslas (definitely not Good King Wenceslas) was himself extremely promiscuous, he became increasingly jealous of his wife. Wencelas tortured St John to force him to reveal the content of the Queen’s confessions. In the end, St John was thrown into the River Vltava and drowned, on March 20, 1393. I bought my little statue of him from an old lady on the Charles Bridge in Prague, at the very spot where, according to tradition, St John was thrown to his death. As I write, it stands on my desk.

No Irish priest, as I say, will lose his life over this. But I really hope the Irish government presses on with this astonishing and unique legislation, and that the courts uphold it. Then we shall see what the Irish Church is really made of. Irish Catholics will be united by it: and in the end, the government will have to back down.

  • JabbaPapa

    If he had not received absolution for his grievous sin against the Christ.

  • Alan

    I’m not sure of how you think that constitutes a response. The Bill that the article above refers does not mention confession or priests in any of its sections. The only civil basis for any privilege afforded the seal of confession comes from common law and judicial rulings. No reference is made to it in any of the statute law applicable in Ireland. 

    This Bill, if enacted, will change nothing in regard to the legal status of the seal of confession and the article above is scaremongering. 

    As it happens, there was a common law offence in Irish Law up until the late 90s called misprision of felony that could have been used to prosecute anyone covering up child abuse, but the same government that signed a very favourable deal with the religious orders over compensation to victims of child abuse did away with that particular offence just a time when prosecutions under it were becoming possible due to emerging information. 

    By the by, the state is under no obligation to pay any attention or make any allowance for the internal rules of any organisation or religion other than such obligations mandated by the Constitution. 

  • Alan

    *Sigh* Nothing in this Bill will effect the legal status of the seal of confession. 

  • Alan

    Apart from the Offences Against the State Act, Special Courts, and internment, you mean. 

  • JabbaPapa

    Is this some kind of longer version of “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA I can’t hear you” ?

    The ommission of certain facts in the legislation, such as what it is intended to target in reality rather than in virtuality, does not magick away everything that’s wrongful about it in the first place.

  • Alan

    I’m just pointing out the facts. This legislation makes no reference to confession etc. FACT. It does nothing to change the legal status of the seal of confession. FACT. 

  • Lewispbuckingham

     An Independant Senator flew this flag in Australia recently.The way it was done was to make every professional liable to prosecution if they did not report paedophilia.A great way to wedge the Church.
    In the following very short debate the main parties ignored him.It was suggested that pedophiles would not go to confession if they were to be instantly reported, defeating the proposal.Most thought that he should not try and interfere in the spiritual life of his constituents, as, no doubt, once this ‘principal’ was adopted, other reportings of criminality would be forced.No doubt every ‘consultation’ would be held for a minimum of seven years and open for inspection by a duly certified officer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mchughrosemary Rosemary McHugh

    Canon law must not have rights above the civil law of the land, in regard to the protection of children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse by clergy.
     As a Catholic physician, I know that there is no way that a priest confessor has to give absolution to someone who confesses the crime of sexual abuse.  If no absolution is given, there is no seal of confession broken, to my knowledge.To me, the priests who are opposed to being mandatory reporters to the police, are treating absolution as a magical quick fix for a predator priest. We know that only God really forgives our sins. For priests to fight against a law that would protect children from the sexual abuse of their predator priest brothers, shows how confused the Roman Catholic priesthood is, in regard to the critical human priority of protecting innocent children from clergy sexual abuse.

    I applaud the Irish government for taking all steps necessary to protect innocent children and vulnerable from the sexual abuse of clergy.

    Sincerely,  Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, Illinois, USA

  • aearon43


    moved on at least 600 years in its thinking”

    What does that mean? 

  • aearon43

    How can you call yourself Catholic if you don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches?

  • aearon43

    And lawyers, too. Confidentiality is respected there — why not with priests?

  • Matthew Roth

    Well yeah. I think I’ve figured out what Parasum meant, if it’s meant to be in relation to abusive priests…

  • Matthew Roth

    Then why does Alan Shatter keep going on about it? 

    It’s just like in the US with Obamacare. Everybody notes what the law actually says, and the exceptions are not there, precisely because the govt is hellbent on enforcing a specific ideology.

  • julianzzz

    Abandon it’s obsession with sex and control, and become more democratic, bring itself uptodate with reality in the form of accepted science, and go back to the roots of Christ’s message rather than the dogma and doctrinal complexities introduced by successive sainted bureaucrats!

    Abandoning celibacy would be a good start, followed by an examination of the effect of an ever increasing human population on the environment and the animal kingdom!

  • julianzzz

    Well you can’t, unless you accept that the church is wrong, as it has been, so many times in history! You forget, the church is a human construction, maintained by humans, imperfectly!

  • julianzzz

    Just because it’s ancient, doesn’t mean it’s better!

  • JabbaPapa

    If no absolution is given, there is no seal of confession broken, to my knowledge.

    This is not true, pure and simple.

    To me, the priests who are opposed to being mandatory reporters to the
    police, are treating absolution as a magical quick fix for a predator
    priest.

    This is completely false, and it is very common even among Catholics that Confession and the Sacrament of Reconciliation are not understood.

    And why “predator priest” ? Do you think that “predator priests” ONLY commit sexual or other crimes ?

    For priests to fight against a law that would protect children from the
    sexual abuse of their predator priest brothers, shows how confused the
    Roman Catholic priesthood is, in regard to the critical human priority
    of protecting innocent children from clergy sexual abuse.

    Sheer and utter nonsense.

  • aearon43

    This sounds like a lot of modernist, scientist pablum, but I happen to be unemployed at the moment, and also slightly drunk, so I have some time on my hands and let’s then go through it point by point, shall we?

    Objection 1: obsession with sex. Is it the Church which is obsessed with sex? Wouldn’t it, rather, be those who would parade their “pride” in particular sexualities who are obsessed with sex(ual orientation)? The Church’s position on sex has not changed. She didn’t start that fight.

    Obj. 2: obsession with control. Jesus Christ chose 12 apostles to whom he gave the keys to the kingdom, and whatever is bound or loosened, etc. As a mother and father have an obligation (not merely a right) to look after their children, so do the successors of the apostles have an obligation to look after their flock. Many have said that the bishops are actually rather too lenient. When was the last time your ever heard of anyone being excommunicated, for example? Maybe SSPX bishops?

    Obj. 3: become more democratic. And what would that accomplish? What does that mean, exactly? The laity get to vote on bishops? Or on doctrine itself? While democracy may be slightly less evil than monarchy in the political area, could you provide some justification for it in terms of Catholic tradition? If you feel you have the right to vote on doctrine, then you should probably start going to a Protestant church, don’t you think?

    Obj. 4: bring itself uptodate with reality in the form of accepted science. This one is the worst. “Uptodate,” oh? What does that mean??? Who says what is up to date and what is not? It’s a pretty easy judgment to make in technical matters. A faster computer, for example, is more up to date than a slower one. It’s much less clear what “up to date” means in matters of faith and morals. Vatican II’s acknowledgement of religious freedom and of the validity of Judaism is “up to date” as far as I’m concerned. Acceptance of sodomy is not, it’s merely decadent.

    Obj. 5: go back to the roots of Christ’s message rather than the dogma and doctrinal complexities introduced by successive sainted bureaucrats. You sound like you have a good deal of sympathy for Protestantism. Catholics believe that it was the Church which, in the first place, determined what actually was “Christ’s message” (i.e. the New Testament) and that the Magisterium is binding on Catholics just as is Scripture. I don’t really have the scholarly expertise to argue that particular point except to say that if you reject the Magisterium you reject the Catholic Church itself. The Church is not going to change in such a fundamental aspect.

    Obj. 6: Abandoning celibacy would be a good start. Why?

    Obj. 7: an examination of the effect of an ever increasing human population on the environment and the animal kingdom. This does make some sense. I’m not sure that the Church opposes such an examination, however.

  • JabbaPapa

    I didn’t say anything about “better” !! I did point out the hypocrisy of the Irish legislative body for trying to shift the burden of its own failures towards the Irish children, those of having some utterly inadequate child protection laws, onto the Catholic Church, that it is designating pure and simple as a scapegoat for its own gross mistakes.

    I said that Canon Law provides a certain number of legal requirements that all Catholics MUST adhere to.

    There is a very long case history over many centuries covering those cases where the civil laws may be in a conflict with canon laws, but wherever the canon laws specifically cite that they overrule the civil laws, then that is what they do — because the Church is the higher legal Authority in that case, for Catholics, because the Authority is of a divine origin.

    This has precisely NOTHING to do with any specific crimes nor any specific sins BTW, except the crime and the sin of breaking the seal of confession.

  • Daclamat

    Priest abusers are clever. I know one who asked his superior to hear his confession, which he did, not knowing what was coming up.  A neat subterfuge.

  • JabbaPapa

    My question, “Is this some kind of longer version of “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA I can’t hear you” ?” was a simple yes/no question.

    The correct answer was “yes”, rather than what you have posted.

  • JabbaPapa

    Abandon it’s obsession with sex and control

    It’s actually the current Irish Government that you’re describing there.

  • JabbaPapa

    Yes but not every unconfessed or insincerely confessed grievous sin against the Church necessarily involves either sex or children.

  • julianzzz

    The Irish, and every other government I can think of, never laid a finger on me, unlike the nuns at school, who regularly beat me and all my friends!

  • julianzzz

    Abandoning celibacy, which was an early response to the establishment of dynasty’s by some priests descendents, would be a good idea, as policy would be informed by experience. Also, I might suggest, that a good wife would put an end to some priests excesses.

  • JabbaPapa

    The legal basis for the legal privilege of the seal of confession rests on common law and on judicial precedent.

    This is totally inaccurate.

    The legal basis of the seal of confession is defined by canon law.

    If there is any “privilege” attached to it, that privilege would most probably belong to the penitent, not to the confessor.

    The Defamation Act 2009 also makes no reference to the seal of confession and it is technically possible to fall you of that act for making a defamatory comment about a person to a third party, which is something that could happen in confession.

    Rubbish — the only way that would be possible would be if the penitent made his confession publicly, which people have been generally unable to do for several *centuries* now, precisely in order to avoid the very scenario that you are mentioning, of people deliberately misusing public confession to defame and accuse others of these or those crimes and/or sins.

    Even IF such an act of defamation were to occur, the penitent would be guilty of it, not the priest.

    Quite apart from which, defamation is also a mortal sin, and anyone committing an unrepentant mortal sin *during* confession is instantly ineligible to receive absolution.

    You are inventing things out of thin air.

  • JabbaPapa

    One of the serious problems was that Bishops and most other clergy, generally speaking, had no significant training whatsoever in the proper and appropriate handling of allegations or knowledge of child abuse — because until 1980s, the true extent of this scandal throughout Western Society as a whole was completely misunderstood by everybody, including most experts.

    It’s easy to know what the proper responses should have been, with 20/20 hindsight — it’s NOT so easy to remember one’s own original reaction of shock to the news stories about massive numbers of child abuses occurring throughout society as they emerged in 1980s onwards, and the horrible realisation that this was occurring everywhere around us and that very many, everywhere, were keeping a tight lid on their own private horrible family scandals.

    And of course, it’s FAR easier for society to just designate a scapegoat to hang this collective guilt and shame on…

  • James

    Given the power of the media and its anti-Catholicism, and seeing as they control what most of the Irish see and hear, the image of a priest in the dock will not be seen as great witness – the media will make him out to be a protector of abusers and the usual “victims” will be wheeled out to weep on air.  As for the right to silence, I could be wrong here, but I think that’s gone.  It’s gone in the UK I think.  I thought a sting might be thrown out of court for entrapment, but I was told that that does not necessarily happen – once a crime is committed, it doesn’t matter if someone was set up or not – that’s the situation in Irish law.

  • Lit201

    You do not sound like a Catholic or even someone who understands the Catholic faith and traditions.  Surely, as a doctor dealing with, I presume, Catholic patients, you should make sure you are better informed.  What you say is nonsense.  God’s laws come before any civil law for a faithful Catholic.  The priest is bound by the oaths of his profession – at least you should understand that!  Don’t you take the hypocratic oath.  How often do you break this for political expediency?  Do you perform abortions, for instance?  If not, then you are true to your oath. 

  • Lit201

    Actually, my suspicion is that this move on the part of the Irish government is orchestrated from higher up – perhaps the EU itself.  There seems to be a concerted move on the part of all governments to dismantle the power of the Catholic Church in all things moral and to oust God in favour of man in society.  They have almost succeeded in England and the US.  Now it’s Ireland’s turn.  Time for the Church Militant.  It seems like we must wake the sleeping giant that is the Catholic Church.  Awake and fight all you faithful Catholics!!!  Ireland loves a good fight! 

  • Lit201

    Sounds like what Obama is doing in the States; using the legislature to set up precedents to enable the attacks on all things Catholic.  Wake up, all faithful Catholics!!!

  • Lit201

    The annoying thing really is that this piece of legislation is political interference in the sacred offices of the Church.  It is the State attacking the Church.  The Devil is in the details!!!

  • Lit201

    You mean bring sex abuse into the classroom; teach a bogus “Theory of Evolution” and encourage deviant sexual perverts under the law?  Yeh, the world is so much better since science enthusiasts had their say.  Wake up faithful Catholics,  fight the devil and put this lunacy where it belongs – in Hell!

  • Lit201

    I was educated by nuns in Ireland.  They were the best teachers in the world – my education was a great basis for further and higher education and my understanding and use of English praised in England where I worked for many years.  In my memory, the only people who were thrashed by nuns were those stubborn reprobates who failed to grasp the idea of responsibility or reform.  If you continued to break the rules in those days, you would be considered mad.  Just look at the world we live in today; which world would you prefer?  We did not know when we were well off.  God be with those wonderful nuns – Dominicans, Holy Faith, Mercy sisters – all.

  • Lit201

    Celibacy is spoken of by St Paul; St Peter, although married, left everything to follow Jesus.  Celibacy was always considered to be the purest and holiest state for priests and religious from the very beginnings of the Church.  Stop reading Protestant heretical nonsense and get to know the history of the Catholic Church.  As Blessed Cardinal Henry Newman says “To know Church history is to choose to be a Catholic”.  Catholic priests are celibate because it is the best condition for a priest.  The Catholic Church is the light of the world, because it is has the fullness of Truth – Jesus Christ.

  • Lit201

    The prophecies of Fatima – Our Lady tells us that the civil authorities will unite against God.  This is much bigger than a knee-jerk reaction against clerical abuse.  It is orchestrated and evil  in its chore – it also has all the hallmarks of Freemasonry.  Awake, faithful Catholics, in Ireland, England and US, everywhere and fight the Devil!!!

  • Lit201

    You are confused, Carlos.  The civil authorities do not care about ‘vulnerable people’, they are using the scandal of clerical abuse to enact laws to undermine Church authority.  They used this same tactic to bring in abortion, using bogus statistics of back-street abortions.  In England, they quoted something like 200,000 backstreet abortions when the figure was actually around 2,000 in a population of 60 million!  Look behind what the civil authorities are saying.  Do not trust them! 

    As someone else pointed out, during the abuse crises the civil authorities were not interested.  They played their part in covering up; but now when it suits them, they are pointing the finger at all clerics when only a tiny minority abused their positions of trust.  The truth is the majority of priests are faithful to their vows and are suffering terribly for the sins of the few.  If you are a Catholic, support your Church and your priests.  How dare the civil authorities undermine the laws of God and the true Church of Christ? 

  • Lit201

    This is to hugely exaggerate the abuse crises.  The compensation paid out by the Irish government has helped inflate those ‘coming forward’.  The mindset is to believe whatever anyone says so long as they are accusing some priest or nun.  ALL of the nuns I came across in Ireland, growing up in the fifties and sixties, were excellent and dedicated religious.  They were also a great example to us all of dedication to their duties and in choosing the religious life.  I had and still hold a huge respect for them – God bless them.

    I do feel though, that, today, there are many closet homosexuals among the religious who have become emboldened to step out of the closet and bring scandal and disgrace to the One, True and Apostolic Church.  They will answer to God for how they have betrayed Him and all those innocent clergy and religious who suffer in silence.

  • Lit201

    Do you mean “The Catholic Church in Ireland”?  The Protestants hijacked the title “Church of Ireland”, so be careful on that score.  Protestants don’t believe in confession, as far as I know.

  • Lit201

    Probably the same as it is now – political in nature only.  If there were faithful Catholics in politics, we would not be in the dire straights we are today in all things spiritual and civil.

  • Acleron

    The facts show that evolution has taken place. Science describes a totally natural mechanism that fully explains the process. Religion realises that yet another series of facts previously attributable to some supernatural entity actually do not. Therefore religion denies the facts and/or the theory. 

    Excellent example of the advanced thinking of the theist.

  • theroadmaster

    No western government has current legislation in place, which compels priests to violate the seal of confession.  This is a totally unnecessary and draconian law, which is mean’t to bolster the image of the Irish government as an uncompromisng opponent of any supposed Church attempts to repeat past cover-ups.  This is a rather disingenuous move on the part of the administration in Dublin, in view of the inviolability of the Confessional oath, and the extreme unlikelihood of a sex abuser admitting to his criminal acts to a priest, in such a situation.  Mr Shatter, the Republic of Ireland’s Justice Minister, has picked a fight, that will in no way positively contribute to confronting the plague of child sex-abuse, and in the long-term that the state will not won.

  • Lit201

    Science comes from Catholic teaching.  There is no conflict between true science and true religion.  The Theory of Evolution, however, has been show to be bogus and wrong, wrong, wrong!!!  Seek out recent physics on this issue.  I am so sick of the deliberate misinformation on this subject.  Ignorance abounds and souls go to Hell as a result.

  • Lit201

    Yours is a typical example of the atheist conned into thinking they evolved when nothing exploded and everything came into existence.  Aren’t you atheists sick of being taken the mick out of?

  • cephas2

    Execellent article, Mr Oddie. 

  • Ryan5

    I think priests should be forced to break the seal of the confessional on the same day that lawyers, bankers, tax agents, doctors and psychologists are forced to break the seal of client privilege for all criminal offences, and that politicians have live feeds of their cabinet meetings. Likewise any person anywhere, anytime, in receipt of a criminal confidence, should be forced to immediately report themselves to the Gardai/Stasi. 
    The absolute stupidity of progressives continues to appall me. Did any of you receive any education worthy of the name?
    Minister Shatter is of Jewish origin, and may have a deficient understanding of Catholic practices. That is all I would charitably say on this. Please Google him for more information.
    Regarding all of the other underage sexual abuse by people in Ireland or elsewhere, by private citizens, civil servants, businessmen or bus drivers I would only say, “If they were they only allowed to marry this would not have happened”.
    This proposal should be treated with the absolute contempt it deserves.

     

  • JabbaPapa

    This is to hugely exaggerate the abuse crises.

    The levels of abuse in the *Church* have been greatly exaggerated, yes indeed !!! — the levels of abuse in the *general population* OTOH were grossly underestimated until the 1980s, and the Marc Dutroux case which started the demolishing of the wall of silence that had prevailed up to that point.

  • JabbaPapa

    The Theory of Evolution, however, has been show to be bogus and wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

    No, it hasn’t.

  • JabbaPapa

    Minister Shatter is of Jewish origin, and may have a deficient understanding of Catholic practices.

    This is a very interesting point — Jewish Law would AFAIK oblige a rabbi to report any knowledge of crime that he were to become aware of (not that this has prevented a Jewish cover-up scandal in the State of New York, has it).

  • frank

    The arrest of innocent priests is of course, not acceptable, but it is not the real threat.  The problem is lawsuits.  Parishes in the US are being sued out of existence because of huge jury awards.  If a jury feels that a priest has withheld information that would have resulted in stopping sex abuse, that jury will penalize the parish or Archdiocese.  And the effect is felt down to the lowest levels of the Church.  There is now a belief by Judges and juries, that the Church should be held responsible for any and all actions of any parishioner acting on any behalf of the Church, no matter how minor the work.   For example, a parishioner driving to visit a sick person, got into an accident. The jury awarded 20 million dollars, to be paid by the Archdiocese, to another driver who was injured in the crash. The injustice is obvious, but because of the precedents set by the child abuse problems, the Church is no longer given the normal protections of the law.   As a result, we, a small Parish group of 3 or 4 individuals, are being told that we need insurance, and that the same is required of every Parish organization, even those in-house groups that just are responsible for the altar.  So, for my group of 3, the required insurance (suggested by Catholic Mutual) would be around $600 per year.  So far, we have delayed these draconian measures, but it is obvious that normal Church membership, and worse, lay participation in Church activities, will be impacted by these legal decisions.  It is quite possible, considering the present attitude of the courts, that the most dangerous threat to the Catholic Church, is the legal system, and that every Archdiocese could be forced to declare bankruptcy, if these lawsuits are allowed to continue…