After King Henry VIII proclaimed himself supreme head of the Church in England and Wales, a violent wave of anti-Catholic persecution began – and lasted over a century. It started with the executions of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, but didn’t end there. Hundreds were killed between 1535 and 1679; the Church recognized the heroism of 40 martyrs from England and Wales in a canonization ceremony on October 25, 1970. (Later, a separate feast on May 4 was created to recognize the 284 canonized or beatified martyrs of the English Reformation.)
The group of 40 martyrs celebrated on October 25 contains a variety of Catholics. The group is composed of “13 priests of the secular clergy, three Benedictines, three Carthusians, one Brigittine, two Franciscans, one Augustinian, 10 Jesuits and seven members of the laity, including three mothers.”
The martyrs were gruesomely tortured before being hanged or killed, but remained steadfast in their faith, refusing to renounce their Catholicism.
Many of the saints were jovial at the prospect of death.
Cuthbert Mayne, a secular priest, replied to a gaoler who came to tell him he would be executed three days later: “I wish I had something valuable to give you, for the good news you bring me…” Edmund Campion, a Jesuit, was so pleased when taken to the place of execution that the people said about him and his companions: “But they’re laughing! He doesn’t care at all about dying…”
One striking story of heroism under extreme torture comes from the martyrdom of a laywoman, Margaret Clitherow.
She was accused “of having sheltered the Jesuits and priests of the secular clergy, traitors to Her Majesty the Queen”; but she retorted: “I have only helped the Queen’s friends” … On Friday March 25th, 1588, at eight o’clock in the morning, Margaret, just thirty-three years old, left Ouse Bridge prison, barefooted, bound for Toll Booth … Her arms were stretched out in the shape of a cross, and her hands tightly bound to two stakes in the ground. The executioners put a sharp stone the size of a fist under her back and placed on her body a large slab onto which weights were gradually loaded up to over 800 pounds. Margaret whispered: “Jesus, have mercy on me.” Her death agony lasted for fifteen minutes, then the moaning ceased, and all was quiet.
Their resolve in the face of certain death is inspiring. They show us that our life on earth is indeed very short and what truly matters is our faithfulness to God. As St. Thomas More famously said: “I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.”
Here is a list of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales,whom we can invoke for their intercession in whatever persecution we may be enduring.
St. John Almond St. Edmund Arrowsmith St. Ambrose Barlow St. John Boste St. Alexander Briant St. Edmund Campion St. Margaret Clitherow St. Philip Evans St. Thomas Garnet St. Edmund Gennings St. Richard Gwyn St. John Houghton St. Philip Howard St. John Jones St. John Kemble St. Luke Kirby St. Robert Lawrence St. David Lewis St. Anne Line St. John Lloyd St. Cuthbert Mayne St. Henry Morse St. Nicholas Owen St. John Payne St. Polydore Plasden St. John Plessington St. Richard Reynolds St. John Rigby St. John Roberts St. Alban Roe St. Ralph Sherwin St. Robert Southwell St. John Southworth St. John Stone St. John Wall St. Henry Walpole St. Margaret Ward St. Augustine Webster St. Swithun Wells St. Eustace White Source
So? Our nearest cousins will be celebrating the Feast of the 40 martyrs of England & Wales on Thursday next, 25 October. So? They suffered and died for the Faith during the Reformation – centuries ago. What – if anything – do they have to teach us, today? We’ve moved on from those days, when people were tortured and killed for their beliefs. We’re ecumenical now, we’re tolerant, we embrace equality and diversity… What on earth do medieval martyrs have to teach us enlightened folk today… Shouldn’t the Feast days of martyrs be removed form the calendar, as a goodwill gesture, in the name of ecumenical progress? Seriously? Or, should that be “satirically”… 😀
The question for discussion really has to be: what is the most important thing the martyrs have to teach us all – north and south of the English border in this modern age? And if you have a particular favourite saint among the 40 martyrs, share that with us…
Father David Marsden SCJ has kindly granted permission for us to publish his powerful Open Letter to the Bishops of the UK on the subject of seminary formation…
Father was forced to resign from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and, two years on, he has now been fired from St. Mary’s College, Oscott (Birmingham, England). Read on to find out why…
Like countless faithful Catholics around the world, I am sure many of you have been shocked and sickened by the recent scandals committed by the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Further suffering is being inflicted by the silence of other cardinals and bishops who knew about his behavior and said nothing — and indeed continue to say nothing. In light of the explosive report by Archbishop Viganò, it becomes even more apparent that the homosexual cabal operating in the Catholic Church exists at the very highest level and even incriminates Pope Francis himself.
I hope and pray that the action of the Holy Spirit is now beginning to purify the hierarchy by exposing the evil committed by homosexual clergy around the world. I feel it is my duty to now inform you and faithful Catholics that the homosexual collective within the hierarchy which enabled McCarrick to function in an unobstructed manner is still alive and well today in the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Towards the end of May 2018, I was dismissed from my post as formation tutor at St. Mary’s College, Oscott by the rector, Canon David Oakley. The reason for this was that I recommended that an openly gay seminarian discontinue the program of formation. Clearly, as an openly gay man, there was no hope of him being ordained. David Oakely informed me that his bishop was “adamant” that his student was staying in formation and that this was not how he and a number of bishops interpreted the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
In light of the McCarrick scandal and the Viganò report, it has become very clear that cardinals, bishops and senior clergy from around the world are still openly dissenting against the Church’s teaching that prohibits the entrance into seminary formation of men with a homosexual orientation. This is the root cause of the most pressing scandal of our times. In fact, it is destroying the priesthood from within.
Apparently, the policy in Oscott appears to be if a candidate is not “acting out” his homosexual tendencies at the moment or behaving in an inappropriately “camp” way, then he is free to follow the formation program and move towards holy orders. The rector will not dismiss a candidate from the seminary who admits to being “gay” out of fear that his bishop will not agree with his decision. The problem, therefore, quietly continues.
This approach is clearly ignoring the Church’s teaching on this vital issue, yet for some strange reason, bishops are still not being made accountable for disregarding this important instruction. Whilst the teaching is clear, the practice in so many dioceses is deeply compromised. Can I make a huge plea that something be done about this widespread abuse?
I can also state that two of the spiritual directors in the seminary are very compromised on the issue of homosexuality — one individual admitting to me his own gender identity is very confused and the other openly stated that homosexual priests are a good idea as they are better able to minister effectively to homosexual Catholics! Neither would adhere to Church’s teaching and acknowledge that a key part of their role as spiritual contained the “duty to dissuade (a homosexual person) in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.”
I am writing to you all with a petition to act and take the necessary steps to reform the three remaining seminaries in England. The orthodox and heterosexual seminarians deserve a seminary free from a gay subculture and free from academic and formation staff who are homosexualthemselves.
For the sake of brevity, I will summarise my findings from the year I spent working in the seminary:
1. The problem begins at St. Luke’s Institute in Manchester where a number of seminarians are asked to undergo a psychological assessment as part of the selection policy. The director of the institute, Fr. Gerard Fieldhouse-Byrne, has some very strange views on homosexuality himself and seems happy to admit homosexual men into the formation program. This is a problem that the bishop of Salford needs to address.
2. Canon David Oakley is prepared to admit homosexual men into his seminary and will not dismiss them unless their public conduct becomes unsavory. He is a compromised and cowardly man who is not prepared to make a stand and disagree with the bishops on the issue of homosexuality.
3. A number of bishops from England and Wales are happy to admit seminarians who are openly gay into the formation program and proceed towards ordination. The bishop of Menevia is one such example.
4. One of the spiritual directors at Oscott Seminary has admitted to being sexually attracted to young men. It is highly inappropriate that such an individual hold such a post. The rector is aware of this fact but seems unable to confront this individual. He even noted that the friends who accompany this individual for holidays each year are also homosexual. Another of the spiritual directors in the seminary thinks that homosexual priests are a great idea as they can minister to the gay Catholic community.
5. The archbishop of Birmingham and the archbishop of Westminster have both been informed of these issues and seem to prefer to ignore them. Why do we continue to have such passive and feeble-hearted clerics in such high places of leadership in the Church? Why are they afraid to speak out on topics such as homosexuality in the clergy and the toxic gender ideology sweeping through our schools?
These are not only facts but shocking allegations against the present life of the seminary in Birmingham. Action needs to be taken to address the homosexual culture in the Church’s hierarchy. Scandals like those of Theodore McCarrick and Cardinal Keith O’Brien are just waiting to happen. The normal, heterosexual students in Oscott demand that the homosexual clique in the seminary be dismissed and that the homosexual or bisexual staff members be dismissed also.
I was fired from the college for striving to uphold the Church’s teaching on homosexuality which is a grave injustice to me personally. It is extraordinary to think that I was asked by the rector to make a public oath of fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church at the beginning of theacademic year. It is my fidelity to that oath that has cost me my job and deprived the seminarians of the only qualified formator in the seminary.
In the summer of 2016, I was forced to resign from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth because they were ordaining openly homosexual men to the priesthood, and two years later I have been fired from St. Mary’s College, Oscott for stating that homosexual men are not to be admitted to seminary formation and priesthood.
We are surely living through dark times for the Catholic Church. Are there any good bishops left who are brave enough to begin the wholesale reform of the priesthood that is so badly needed?
With every blessing in Christ,
Father David Marsden, S.C.J. Former Formation Tutor
Catholic Truth warmly commends Father Marsden for his excellent letter to the Bishops. We pray that some, at least, actively respond to it.
What do you think… will any Bishops (even one) – pay heed?
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, widely lauded as a strict, traditional Catholic, fails to make the distinction between ‘judgmentalism’ and making necessary moral judgments… or maybe you agree with him? Do we really need a lying, adulterous Prime Minister to take us through Brexit? That’s how I’m reading JRM’s support for Boris – what about you?
Well, the knives are out for The Donald, no question about it – at least, judging by the reporting of the Michael Cohen guilty plea here in the UK, with reporters and presenters hardly able to conceal their delight at the possibility that President Trump will find himself either impeached in the near future, or in prison after he has left office. You could almost hear the champagne corks popping in the TV news studios today…
I may be wide of the mark here, and for goodness sake don’t take what I’m about to say as justification for either extra-marital affairs or ‘hush’ payments, but I can imagine a businessman like Trump thinking nothing of paying off some female blackmailers for the sake of avoiding the predictable publicity their stories, true or false, would bring – a distraction, to put it mildly, during a campaign to win the presidential election. After all, his reputation was not exactly squeaky clean, was it? So, assuming the payments were made from his personal bank account, I’m not sure they’re as significant as his enemies are implying. But then, I could be wrong. Bound to happen some day. What do you think – is Donald Trump implicated in criminal activity as a result of the Cohen guilty plea, and if so, what is the right thing, the moral thing, for him to do now – resign? Apologise and move on? What, then?
American Cardinal McCarrick’s resignation, house-arrest and forthcoming canonical trial following allegations of child sexual abuse has hit the headlines the world over. Click here to read one of the many reports…
Not quite so well known, however is the fact that McCarrick’s long time friend, who shared a home with him for six years, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, is the person in charge of the Youth Synod. Guilt by association, of course, is unjust. However, watch his performance in this short video report and then read the comments from YouTube, some of which are copied below, for ease of reference.
Then ask yourself – would YOU want this man in any kind of position where he can influence any child of yours, with his upside down view of the role of young people in the Church? He doesn’t see them as requiring the teaching and guidance of the Church – he thinks these uncatechised young people should be running the Church! We’ve a bishop here in Scotland who thinks the same – if you recall, not so long ago, we discussed this same ambition of the Bishop of Paisley (John Keenan) to hand his diocese over to his uncatechised youth. Seems to be catching on – can’t wait for the polling on that one in a year or two…
Watch the clip below, where he reacts to the “news” (not likely news to him) of Cardinal McCarrick’s credibly alleged sordid behaviour, the consequences of which are now coming home to roost. Then check if your own thoughts chime with the YouTube commentators below.
Comments from those who watched the video on YouTube… to read all comments click here
…Will Farrell denounce the actions of McCarrick? Where is that?
…Not buying it at all. This Cardinal Farrell was the guy who invited weirdo homosexualist priest Father James Martin to speak at the World Meeting of Families in Ireland. Why would they want to turn the World Meeting of Families into a big gay pride parade? This guy is behind having this stuff at the Ireland meeting and should never have been made a Cardinal. This clown also said that priests have nothing to offer when it comes to preparing people for marriage. He is a disgrace to the church.
…Haul this guy into court and have him testify under oath
…Cardinal, as you can see from the comments below, no one believes one word you say about this. You’re only adding to the shame the Church must shoulder because of the acts of the mitered dirt bag McCarrick. We in the pews are sick of pious lies of the kind we hear in this interview.
…Translation: “I lived with a pedo for many years and never noticed anything odd!” If true, this just tells us that Farrell is a very naive and unintelligent man. And that’s probably the best scenario we can hope for. His choice of words also make him suspect. A person with a properly formed conscience in this case would use words like “disgusting,” “repugnant,” and “despicable.” Instead he’s just talking about himself and how “overwhelmed” he is. Not convincing.
…I don’t believe him at all
…I don’t believe this. Sorry. Total liar. They know very well what’s going on. Sickening… totally sickening.
…He seems to care only about himself, not for any victims. This is so disheartening as a Catholic.
…Play at slower speed to hear that I am recording this accurately. 0:53 And I was involved 0:58 heavily involved in Washington, 1:00 ahh in the whole … from 2000 on 1:06 in the sex abuse 1:09 ammm 1:12 so I really 1:16 don’t have any knowledge or ‘anything’ to add about 1:20 more than that
…If this “interview “ was supposed to help Cardinal Farrell it totally backfired. “I, I, I, I, I, I…” Any sense of shame, indignation and compassion for the terrible damage done to others? I don’t think so. He’s just thinking about how to get out of this.
…“…heavily involved”… “in the sex abuse…”… hmmm. Anyone else think that’s a “strange” remark? Notice he did not say sex abuse SCANDAL!?!
…Utter rubbish. Every priest in the Archdiocese had heard about this.
…What was the question? Is he saying he’s only “shocked” to hear Cardinal McCarrick preyed on minors? Or is he shocked by all the accusations, including that Cardinal McCarrick was an active homosexual? Because Cardinal Farrell lived with Cardinal McCarrick for several years, during a time when “everyone know” (including several journalists) about McCarrick’s behavior. Of course, the obvious answer is that of course Cardinal Farrell knew and that he should be taken down by all this too.
…No sense of being indignant by the accusations against McCarrick. No sense of shame, or caring for the victims. This man is typical of why the sex scandal went on for so long.
…he looks like he’s hiding something. His gaze looks more like “I dare you to find something on me” rather than one of contrition. A normal human would say something like “I WISH I had heard something so I could have stopped the abuse” or “I was shocked…McCarrick played us all for fools”, but his comments are entirely defensive and self-centered. If Cardinal Farrell won’t stick up for us lay people and our kids, which bishop will?
Below, report in Evening Times, dated 17 July, 2018, with Catholic Truth editorial comment in blue, italicised throughout.
Fr Mark Morris
A CATHOLIC chaplain of a Glasgow university has held a service to atone for the “gross offence” of Pride Glasgow. Ed: well, thanks be to God that there was at least one act of reparation for this “pride in our sin” parade through our city, in flat contradiction to the city motto which is “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy word and the praising of Thy name.”
Father Mark Morris, of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, last night invited parishioners to a rosary of reparation. Ed:bravo, Father!
According [to] the Balornock church’s website, the service was a “Rosary of reparation for the gross offence to God which is Pride Glasgow.” Ed:bravo, Father!
Saturday’s Pride march was led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who called the event “celebrating and reaffirming the values of tolerance, diversity, equality, love and respect.” Ed:there should never be any celebration and reaffirming of sin, especially in a city bearing a motto of dedication to Christ: “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy word and the praising of Thy name.”
But last night Father Morris, who is the Catholic chaplain of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), held a service offering decades of the Rosary, Litany and Benediction in reparation for the LGBTQI+ event. Ed: thus providing an opportunity for all concerned to affirm their stated devotion to the “values of tolerance, diversity, blah blah…”
Jordan Daly, Co-Founder of Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), which campaigns for inclusive education in schools, said it was “sad and disappointing” to see Father Morris’s “condemnation” of the event. Ed:why on earth is it “sad and disappointing” to see a priest upholding Catholic moral teaching? Would you prefer that he lacked integrity and praised what any Catholic worthy of the name knows to be a grave offence against God – objectively, a sin deadly to the soul? I thought the whole idea was that in our “inclusive” society we can “celebrate” and “tolerate” ALL views, beliefs blah blah? Yeah, right.
He said: “The Pride parade was, as always, a vibrant and colourful display of diversity, acceptance, and inclusivity. Ed:not in my experience. These “pride” parades comprise a procession of half-naked people, cavorting and being sexually provocative in their behaviour. Not nice, to put it mildly. If that’s “a display of diversity blah blah” you can keep it.
“The ethos of the parade is equality and love, so it is sad and disappointing to see that Father Morris has countered those fundamental values by holding this service and allowing a narrative of exclusion and condemnation to enter the mainstream as a result.” Ed:superficial junk-think. These terms are flung around without any definitions being offered. Equal to whom? What KIND of “love”? The LGBT etc agenda is dominating the conversation and we are not allowed to ask these questions. Let anyone call this sin a sin, and pray in reparation, as Fr Morris has done (to his eternal credit), and he is accused of conducting a “narrative of exclusion and condemnation”. From junk-think to junk-speak.
Father Morris celebrates Mass on Thursdays in the Faith and Belief Centre in the university’s William Harley Building, and hears confession. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Glasgow said: “This was a private parishdevotion unrelated to Father Morris’s role as chaplain.” Ed: what a dereliction of duty. How DARE this “spokesman” for the Catholic Church in Glasgow, whoever he is, fail to point out that Father is doing no more than his duty as a Catholic priest in praying for and making reparation for serious sin. And, furthermore, that he is always a priest, whether in his parish or in a university or any other place where he is appointed to BE a priest for the people in that place. Just WHO is this spokesman? Ronnie Convery? Doesn’t he know that the Archbishop of Glasgow, when he was appointed to the Diocese of Paisley, condemned the LGBT etc lobby outright and urged us all to be prepared to go to prison rather than remain silent or support this evil? Has Mr Convery forgotten this wee detail? How typically convenient.
A spokesman for the university said GCU is fully inclusive. Ed:well, what’s the problem? Why are you so annoyed at Fr Morris, or does “inclusivity” just mean you include LGBT etc people and their supporters? Nobody else is “included” in your “inclusivity”?
He said: “The university is strongly inclusive. Ed:You’ve still not explained what this means – IS Fr Morris included in this “inclusivity” or not?
“We respect and promote equality and diversity. Ed:no you don’t. Otherwise you would respect Fr Morris’s right to hold any kind of prayer event he wishes, in his own parish.
“This includes an official presence at the last two Pride Glasgow events.” Ed:it’s the norm, now, to be politically correct, toeing the LGBT etc propaganda line, to go with the flow. Few challenge it. Group-think rules. To quote G. K. Chesterton: “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
But Jordan added: “We are concerned about the message that this could send to the young people of Glasgow Caledonian University, and so would like to stress that these predictable voices of opposition are becoming increasingly drowned out by a Catholic and wider faith community which is supportive of LGBT equality. Ed:Jordan’s “concern” doesn’t say much about two things; firstly, the quality of students at Glasgow Caledonian University, who apparently can’t be exposed to any thinking person who goes against the establishment/popular view in society, and secondly, the Catholic community which, if it is “supportive of LGBT etc equality” is about as Catholic as the nearest Church of Scotland congregation. There were Catholics like those at the time of the Reformation. They were called Protestants then, and that is what they are now – protesting the teaching of the Catholic Church, in this case, on sexual morality.
“There were many people of faith who attended the Parade this weekend and in our efforts to advance LGBT-inclusive education in schools, we have been strongly supported by numerous Catholic Priests and their parishioners, as well as Church of Scotland and Scottish Episcopal Church ministers. Ed: that is utterly scandalous. Faithful Catholics have a right to know the names of priests who “strongly support” LGBT etc education in schools. Their hypocrisy and duplicity must be exposed. They are living a lie, and stealing from parishioners who are donating to parish funds in the belief that their priests at least believe the doctrines of the Faith in their entirety.
“Our experience working with the Scottish Catholic Education Service as part of the Scottish Government’s LGBT Inclusive Education Working Group has also been nothing but positive and productive. Ed:again, that is scandalous, but we have known this for a while, thanks to the SCES openly boasting about the “safe spaces” they are making available for “gay” pupils in Catholic schools.
“We know that those who support the LGBT community outweigh those who endorseintolerance and I imagine that the number of attendees to this service in contrast with those who attended the Pride parade would further prove that.” Ed:now, you do have a point there. Thanks to the loss of divine and Catholic Faith within the Scottish hierarchy, which has trickled down to the majority of the clergy, there are now so few Catholics left in Glasgow that there are plans afoot to close and merge umpteen formerly thriving parish churches. One day, however, these bishops and priests will be called to account for their negligence, for allowing themselves to be so seduced by worldliness that they actually fell into apostasy. What a price, then, to pay.
NUS Scotland’s LGBT+ Officer Kai O’Doherty added: “NUS Scotland is proud to be at the forefront of breaking down barriers facing LGBT+ people. Ed:now there’s an original mantra…
“Universities should be a place where every student, regardless of religion, sexuality, or identity, feels accepted and supported to study without fear of discrimination. Ed:even students who disapprove of same-sex activity? Really? I’ve heard stories galore of students being harassed and insulted for just expressing a contrary view on social media. In one case, the student had to take flight to Spain to complete her studies! No, tolerance really isn’t a hallmark of this whole LGBT etc juggernaut.
“Everybody within our university communities has a duty to ensure that campuses are compatible with the accepting and progressive culture that they strive to achieve. “We’re proud of the progress that has been made, but every day we are reminded of how far we still have to go to achieve a truly inclusive society.” Ed: more junk-think but note: anyone who is not in favour of the “progressive culture” (where every sin and then some is acceptable and promoted) is not given a place on the “inclusivity” bandwagon.
Following Ms Sturgeon’s involvement in Pride, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland is considered to be one of the most progressive countries in Europe regarding LGBTI equality, and Pride Glasgow is a fantastic event that brings communities together and celebrates all that LGBTI people contribute to Scottish life.
“As a society we must champion equality and fairness at all times and defend the progress that has been made.” Ed: Hmmmm. Doesn’t quite tie in with the city motto, does it: “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy word and the praising of Thy name.”
Click here to read Evening Times article, minus Catholic Truth editorial comment.
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.
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?