S+L logo

If a Royal Commission Has Its Way, Priests Could Be Charged For Keeping The Seal of The Confessional - Perspectives Daily

Noel Ocol

August 17, 2017
Earlier this month, the board of directors of the Knights of Columbus voted unanimously to adopt a new uniform for the Fourth Degree Knights.
The Fourth Degree uniform, recognized by the chapeau with a plume, a tuxedo and cape, and the ceremonial sword, has remained unchanged since 1940. Now however, that uniform will be replaced for a modern version that includes: a blue blazer, with the 4th Degree emblem, dark gray pants, a blue 4th Degree tie, and a beret.
Many members were not thrilled about the change, and some controversy was generated, with members feeling that the new uniform loses the sense of the pageantry associated with the fourth-degree level, while others are concerned about the cost associated of acquiring the new uniform.
With that in mind, the Knights have published a question and answer page on their website to help facilitate the change. This page addresses many of the concerns that members have, including the subsidized cost of the new uniform, and the use of the ceremonial sword and how the new uniform should be worn.
In the end, after a long period of consultation and reflection, the decision was made for the good of the entire order. And the Supreme Knight is asking members to put, "the good of the Order" before personal preference. You can visit that page at: kofc.org
In Australia, a Royal Commission is recommending that the country introduce legislation that would make it a criminal offence not to report child sexual abuse. And priests who find out about such abuse during confessions, would not be exempt from the law.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has put forth a recommendation that would punish priests for not breaking the seal of the confession. The Commission is insisting that priests who do not inform police after learning about child sex abuse during confession, should face criminal charges. “The right to practice one’s religious beliefs must accommodate civil society’s obligation to provide for the safety of all and, in particular, children’s safety from sexual abuse,” the commission wrote.
Now, if such a law were to be imposed in Australia, priests would be forced to choose between following criminal law or canon law. And under canon law, priests may never break the seal of the confessional, even under threat of death. And any priest who breaks the seal faces automatic excommunication.
In response to this, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said in a statement that: “Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest. It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognized in the Law of Australia and many other countries. It must remain so here in Australia. “Outside of this, all offences against children must be reported to the authorities, and we are absolutely committed to doing so.
At this time, there is no indication if and when such a law will be enacted, but you can be sure we’ll keep you up to date as the story progresses.
And finally, here’s something to think about: With the millions of people suffering from drought in Africa, do we as Catholics have a religious obligation to help? Sean Callahan, the President of Catholic Relief Services talks to CNS on this exact topic.
That's all for this week. Join us again on Monday, when we bring you more news and stories from the Perspective of a Catholic lens.