Australia: Priests Facing Jail for Refusing to Break Seal of Confession…

From Lifesitenews

CANBERRA, Australia, June 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A new law in Australia requires Catholic priests in Canberra to break the sacred seal of confession to report a child-sex abuser. The law, which has drawn fierce opposition from Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra, could result in faithful priests being jailed who refuse to comply.

                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

A bill passed on June 7 by the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) extends mandatory reporting of child abuse to cover churches and church activities, including the Catholic confessional. All the political parties in the Assembly supported the measure.

A  Catholic priest cannot violate the seal of the confessional, which means that he cannot repeat what he is told by a penitent confessing his or her sins, without incurring automatic excommunication. The Catholic Church teaches that confession is a sacrament, a place of encounter between the Christian and Jesus Christ. The priest who hears the confession is merely Christ’s instrument of forgiveness.

Hitherto the confessional was exempt from ACT’s reporting laws; from March 31, 2019, priests who do not report confessions regarding child abuse to the police risk prosecution.

Archbishop Prowse slammed the new law, saying “priests are bound by a sacred vow to maintain the seal of the confession. Without that vow, who would be willing to unburden themselves of their sins, seek the wise counsel of a priest and receive the merciful forgiveness of God?”

Prowse, the archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, wrote an essay in the Canberra Times last week explaining why legislating against the seal of confession will do much harm and no good.

“First, what sexual abuser would confess to a priest if they thought they would be reported?” he asked.

Prouse explained that it is the common experience of pastors that child abusers don’t confess their crimes to either priests or police. If the seal was removed, the theoretical possibility abusers might confess and be counselled to turn themselves in would be lost.

“Second, the government itself has acknowledged [with] the [Catholic] church’s ‘Truth, Justice and Healing Council… that […] it [was] difficult to see systematic abuse of the seal of confession,” Prowse wrote. “People who attend confession are sorry for their sins, indicate resolve not to sin again and seek God’s mercy. Pedophiles carry out evil and unspeakable criminal acts. They hide their crimes; they do not self-report.”

Third, he pointed out that priests do not necessarily know the identities of people who confess to them.

Fourth, he said that such a law attacks the inviolate seal of the confessional.
Originally the ACT government invited the archbishop to meet with the Attorney General to discuss the importance of both the protection of children and the seal of the confessional. However, the legislature began to debate the new bill before this meeting could take place. The archbishop decried this loss of opportunity for dialogue, pointing out that the proposed new law threatened religious freedom.

“Religious freedom is the freedom to hold a belief and, secondly, the freedom to manifest belief in community and in public, privately and individually in worship, observance, practice and teaching,” he explained.

“The government threatens religious freedom by appointing itself an expert on religious practises and by attempting to change the sacrament of confession while delivering not improvement in the safety of children,” he continued.

The new reporting laws will require priests to report allegations or offenses related to children to the ACT Ombudsman within 30 days.

Two members of the ACT Legislative Assembly thought forcing priests to break the seal of the confessional was a step in the wrong direction.

Andrew Wall, a former student of Marist College, a school notorious in Australia for child sex abuse allegations, said that while some of the child protection measures in the new law were “overdue”, he objected to its extension to the confessional.

According to the Canberra Times, Wall said forcing priests to break the confessional seal “significantly impinges on an individual’s freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of individual rights.”

Vicki Dunne, the second member, pointed out that a priest who breaks the seal of confession incurs an excommunication that can be lifted only by the pope. In addition, it would undermine Catholics’ trust in the “sacred, sacramental and sacrosanct” rite.

“We need to stop and think twice before we pass legislation that requires Catholic priest to break the seal of the confession,” she had warned.

Comment: 

I have to admit, golden beaches, beautiful homes and sunny climate notwithstanding, I’ve never felt the slightest desire to visit Australia, let alone live there. Now it’s on my list of countries in which I will never set foot.  I mean, the sheer nerve of the  grand-sounding numpties at the ‘Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory’ to threaten  jail for Catholic priests who adhere to a law of the Church which is entirely rooted in and bound up in divine law, as expressed in the above image, is breathtaking.

Would Australia dare to interfere with – and legislate against – any other religion, as it has outlawed a sacrosanct tenet of Catholicism?  It is, of course, a stupid and unworkable law, as outlined in the Church’s response above but it is revealing of the bigotry and nastiness of the Australian lawmakers that they would even think of passing such an evil law … the weather may be sunny over there in Aussie-land but they can keep it.   I’ll not be visiting Australia – ever.  What about you?  

Pentecost Sunday: Vatican Prohibition On Communion in the hand Enforced

Click on photo to view video clip…

On Pentecost Sunday several priests refused to give Holy Communion in the hand in Vatican St Peter’s Basilica. 

They put Holy Communion as it should be on the tongue.
[Ed: except in one case where the choir member refused to accept the priest’s insistence on the tongue, pointing to his cupped hand.]

Twitter-User CatholicSat explained (May 25) that there was an increasing number of abuses over the recent months.

Therefore priests have been reminded again that Communion in the hand is prohibited in the Vatican. 

Comment: 

Should the priest have refused to give in to the choir member who insisted on receiving Communion in the hand? 

Questions: Would YOU “Ask Father”?

Our American blogger, RCA Victor, writes…

Following up on the notion that the CT blog could be a sort of cyber-parish for modern Catholics, esp. as a source of orthodox catechesis, here’s a thought:

Is there a traditional priest up your sleeve who would be willing to answer questions from readers in the form of a blog topic, every so often? You could call it “Ask Father” or something of the sort, and create a separate email for these questions so you don’t get swamped. Webmaster or someone on the CT Team could collect the questions and forward them to Father, he could supply the answers, and the Team could post them.  End. 

Editor replies...

This, and similar suggestions, are put to us from time to time.  I find the idea understandable on one level, but very puzzling on another.  Here’s why. 

It is the ordained who are causing and/or supporting/perpetuating the crisis in the Church.  

I do have to admit, however,  that, even before I became aware of the crisis, I am on record as saying to various friends that a priest is the last person I would ever approach to discuss a personal problem.  It’s a kind of instinct.  Even from the age of 11 years when enquiring about membership of the junior Legion of Mary, I was not encouraged by our curate… I later discovered that he was the Spiritual Director of the parish group!  Clericalism is still a major problem in the Church and my own sense is that, when priests are so lacking in elementary understanding of the basic lay vocation, I can’t really be confident in the sort of answers they would give in any area of doubt, whether moral, religious or spiritual. Very recently a priest pointed out to me that St Catherine of Siena could criticise popes because she had been given a special grace from God – not because she was a Confirmed Soldier of Christ. So, that was me and moi put in our respective places! Now, of course, St Catherine of Siena was a great mystic and saint with a very important and special mission from God, but there was nothing to stop God choosing a priest or bishop for the task. The fact that He chose a lay woman signals to us that everyone, men, women and children, must be active lay apostles. That priests are simply not aware of that fact themselves, which is why it is seldom, if ever, a topic for preaching,  does not fill me with confidence that their answers to key questions and advice would be solidly reliable. 

The priestly vocation is to dispense the sacraments and preach the Faith.  From time to time, we’ve had priest contributors to this blog as part of their duty to “preach the Faith” but they tend not to stay the course. Perseverance in the work of the lay apostolate is not a widespread virtue.  The other day I was searching for a comment among very old blog topics and was astonished at the names of bloggers I’d totally forgotten.   They come and they go, priests included.  And I have to say that of the several priests who have blogged here, none have been “traditionalists” …  Indeed, when I asked one “traditionalist” priest if he reads our blog he replied in the negative, all the while assuring me that he supported what we are doing. Truly, you couldn’t make it up. Who was it said: “the blog has been betrayed, even by those who should have contributed to it?” 

So, in terms of “orthodox catechesis”, I would expect “traditional” priests to participate in our discussions and since they don’t, I lack confidence in their willingness to commit to the kind of role which RCA Victor (and others before him) suggest. And as for addressing individual concerns? Well…

I don’t see priests as problem-solvers; even “traditionalist” and “traditional leaning” priests don’t always get it right, and might do a great deal of damage with their “advice”. I remember some years ago, when my mother was elderly and with mobility issues, so that I was reluctant to leave her for any length of time in case she fell,  a priest made a comment about my spasmodic attendance at his weekday Masses. I did try to attend when I could but that entailed recruiting a  “mother-sitter” and although my siblings were happy to help when they could, they were in full time employment and had their own work and family commitments. They were already committed to staying with my mother on Sundays and Holy Days, to let me get to Mass.  When the subject next arose and I “asked Father” if he thought attending a weekday Mass took precedence over my duty to my mother, he replied, slowly… “Yes …I think so”.  Wrong!  For me to abandon my sick mother in order to attend a weekday Mass would have been sinful, not virtuous.  So, recommending priests to those seeking sound spiritual, religious and moral advice, is something of a daunting task these days. 

As things stand, when I do, occasionally, receive emails from people asking me to recommend a priest, I suggest one of the SSPX-affiliated priests, who has given me permission to distribute his contact details to anyone who asks.  This priest offers personal retreats for people on a one-to-one basis, in a beautiful setting, on the Scottish island of Stronsay, and I am always happy to email his details to anyone who wishes to contact him. 

However, if I “asked [any] Father” you care to name, to take on the role of a Catholic Truth Agony Uncle as outlined by our zealous RCA Victor I can say without fear of contraception contradiction, that he would decline the job.  Even with a six figure salary (£000.000) 😀

Of course, if YOU are a priest reading this who would relish the role – feel free to say so loud and clear. Your appointment begins with immediate effect! 

Orthodox Vs Traditional Faith…

 

Catholics will please God by holding to true beliefs and correct moral norms.   The Mass you attend is secondary…

Editor, Catholic Truth writes…

I keep finding myself in conversations with diocesan Catholics – defined simply as those who attend the new Mass  – who consider that being orthodox in doctrine and morals is the most important thing today, not which Mass we attend.  The point is always made that, for those brought up in the new Mass, with no alternative, it’s all they have, and therefore, surely the most important thing is to be wholly orthodox, stick to right beliefs and moral norms.  When I ask if they go along with ecumenical events, I get a variety of responses tolerant of through to positive about ecumenical activities. To date, I’ve never met with an outright denunciation of ecumenism. 

Ditto, these Catholics seldom denounce the false apparitions at Medjugorje, instead focusing on the adherents in their circles who have experienced “conversions” and vocations, including priestly ordinations.  All wonderful people. 

I’m told too, that “traditionalists” need to stop talking so much about the Mass and focus on God more.  Don’t go on the “attack” in conversation with diocesan Catholics right away, to ask if X attends the old or new Mass – speak about God first.

My answers to the above have not been successful in changing hearts and minds Help!

Performing Priests Vs Pastoral Care…

Comment:

Seems this priest has already made a living out of his performances – click here to read more

Key question:  would you want your priest to have a career in showbiz vying for his attention alongside your pastoral care? 

Scots Bishop: young must save Church

Does anyone seriously think that contemporary youth is equipped to “save the Church”?  Aren’t they kinda tied up saving the planet?  And doing Facebook and stuff? 

Some extracts from this Scottish Catholic Observer report follow [with editorial comment]

Bishop of Paisley calls on the [uncatechised] faithful to halt ’25 years of decline’. Yes, you read that right. He wants the blind to lead the blind. It’s the latest in pastoral practice.

The laity needs to take up more leadership positions in the Church to save it from a 25-year period of decline, the Bishop of Paisley has said.
[Notice, no mention of the nature of the “decline” or the cause of said decline – that would require facing some uncomfortable truths.]

Speaking as the diocese prepares to implement the next stage of an historic synod, Bishop John Keenan urged the faithful to decide for themselves how to shape the future and create ‘new skins for new wine.’ [A tad difficult when the poor kids have no experience of the “old wine”]

Paisley parishioners have been taking part in an ongoing synod in the diocese in recent years, discussing its future against a background of a 31 per cent drop in Mass attendance over the ten years from 2005-2015. [Getting close there – how many of the Paisley youth realise that the Mass they attend is a relatively new liturgy; that there is such a thing as “the old Mass”? And that there are young people who attend it? Young people who love it? I wonder why they don’t know that?]

Other dioceses in Scotland are struggling with similar issues, with Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh indicating this month that as many as 40 parishes in his archdiocese could close. [Ouch! Not exactly a sign of rip-roaring success, is it. Vatican II, please say “sorry, folks”! ]

Bishop Keenan said a small number of parish closures could be a part of his diocese’s future, but he stressed he would take his lead from parishioners. [Well, there’s a novelty. A bishop who refuses to lead.  A shepherd being led by his sheep. WOW. Original or what? Cool, man.]   Source – Scottish Catholic Observer

Comment

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Marriage & Modernist Double-Speak…

Extracts below from Catholic Herald article entitled: Cardinal lays out plan for parishes to implement Amoris Laetitia

Cardinal Donald Wuerl has issued a broad and detailed pastoral plan for parishes to implement Pope Francis’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”).

“Amoris Laetitia is a call to compassionate accompaniment in helping all to experience Christ’s love and mercy,” the Archbishop of Washington said in the 58-page pastoral plan.

The plan, “Sharing in the Joy of Love in Marriage and Family,” was posted on the archdiocesan website late on March 3. Cardinal Wuerl planned to officially introduce the document to the archdiocese with a Mass on March 4 at the Cathedral of St Matthew the Apostle…

“Some may ask, ‘Is the teaching [on marriage] always binding?’ The answer of course is yes,” he continued. “Yet Amoris Laetitia invites us to adopt a complementary perspective and to look with a parental attitude at those families who find themselves in a position where they struggle to even understand, let alone embrace fully, the teaching because of the concrete circumstances in which they live.”

Cardinal Wuerl said his pastoral plan is “directed to parishes, priests, religious and laity” and is meant “to encourage reflection” on:

• “The richness of the Church’s perennial teaching on love, marriage, family, faith and mercy.”
• “The essential aspect of pastoral ministry, called accompaniment.”
• “Several significant themes such as the new evangelisation, the role of conscience, and the privileged place of the parish where we find and experience Christ’s way of living and loving.”  Read entire article here

Comment: 

So, “yes” Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is always binding, but here’s how to get round it… is essentially what the Cardinal is saying in typical modernist double speak. After all, a competent teacher,  confronted by a student who “struggles to even understand, let alone embrace fully” a subject  puts his/her mind and skill to working out ways to explain the subject more fully, more clearly, but doesn’t change the truth to make it more palatable.  2 + 2 will never make 5, no matter how much the student (and exasperated teacher) wishes it were so. 

Check out the bullet points – closely. Notice one of the “significant themes” is the role of conscience… Code for the heresy of “your choice,  your decision”, objective truth, objective morality does not exist but even if they do, well, rules are there to be broken, as the old saying goes. However it’s dressed up, and whatever the motivation, Amoris Laetitia (AL) is all about breaking the rules.

Still,  Cardinal Wuerl is a bit behind the AL times.  Here in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, we had retreats for priests and teachers almost as AL was rolling off the press, so chop-chop over there in the USA – we’re well ahead of you on this…