Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Submission To Authority
The topic was mentioned on here recently about the Irish government’s plan to introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse, with particular reference to the duties of priests as regards what they learn in confessions. I’m not going to wade into the particular reasons our Taoiseach (the Irish prime minister), Enda Kenny, got so upset or the triggering cause for the situation here in Ireland, nor am I going to address this topic from the legal or practical or political or social or secular viewpoint; if you wish, you may read some references as to why we don’t yet have mandatory reporting and all the to-ing and fro-ing over its introduction at various news gathering sites. Also, a little clarification: “abuse” is taken generally to mean “sexual abuse” but there are, as the “Children First” guidelines define it, at least four broad categories:She does a marvelous job of making the case that the absolute seal the church places on the confessional is an expression of forgiveness. I am not Catholic so I can say naught on that but to listen.“Because children can be abused in a number of ways, sometimes at the same time, it is not always easy to categories it, but four broad definitions can be considered and may be briefly summarised as neglect; emotional abuse; physical abuse and sexual abuse.” These are the guidelines currently being considered for translation into statutory law.Okay, I’m going to bite the bullet and talk about the hardest of hard cases: suppose someone (man or woman) goes to confession and tells the priest “Last night I raped my daughter (or son).” If I may quote what Donalbain said in a comment: “Should a priest inform on a criminal? How is that a hard subject. Of course they should.”
But this is a fascinating church/state situation. I also find her fear of being "burned at the the stake," interesting. I pray daily for all of us to be convicted enough of our sin to confess it. God is working mightily in the heart of the confessor or he would never bother to confess. Strikes me that if it is known that such confession will lead automatically to earthly reprisal, it will serve as disincentive to letting the Holy Spirit work in the heart of the actor. And if we believe the Holy Spirit is at work, will not the Holy Spirit eventually lead that individual to legal as well as sacramental confession?
But mostly I weep for the lack of anything sacred. In the end, if nothing is sacred, if we are left only to ourselves, we are lost.