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Author Topic: Should RCatholic Priests keep all confessions secret?


Alcuin
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Posts: 1007
Should RCatholic Priests keep all confessions secret?
on: September 11, 2020, 17:19

Should an RC priest not reporting a serious crime be criminalised?

I've been debating with myself if making knowledge of a serious crime and not reporting it should be punishable if it was gained by a priest in the RC sacrament of confession. Certainly he is under a moral obligation not to report murder, abuse, planning and atrocity or anything else. Permitting that situation is immoral in itself, in my opinion....

If you don't know what it is like to be in a Roman Catholic (RC) confessional, here is some background that might help...
According to Wiki..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parish_(Catholic_Church)
The size of a parish in the USA is about 2,000 to 4,000 people. As usual, I couldn't readily find the statistics for the UK. I imagine the number varies greatly and is in the region of a few thousand. However, it is probably governed by the parish priest(s) workload and parish funds. I wonder how many parishioners go to confession these days. Many don't go to church but still call themselves Catholics.

I haven't been to confession since I was about ten, but my confession took a few minutes even then because of the ritual. One has to say, "Holy Father forgive me for I have sinned. It has been "x" weeks since my last confession..." and the priest has to listen to you trying to think of something you had done wrong (or making stuff up) and then tell you how many "Our Father's" and "Hail Mary's" to say. As a child I was expected to go every few weeks and "if necessary". I think I went whenever I felt like it, maybe once or twice a year. By age 11, I had cottoned on the fact it was all nonsense. The point is that I have personal experience I can remember. One kneels in a dark box facing a screen with the priest sitting in his box on the other side of the screen. In theory, he doesn't know who you are, but (as I recall it) I could always tell which priest was there (except that I couldn't care less) so I assumed he knew who I was, if he remembered me at all. I can't remember if he can see who approaches the "Confessional".

A priest can hear a confession anytime. It doesn't have to be in the box or a chapel. So, though a confession may be anonymous, the priest can probably guess (and sometimes knows) who is making the confession. That is especially true if one has a distinctive voice or figure.

The root of the problem, of course, is being religious and taking such cult rituals (sacraments) so seriously. However, since they do, I am undecided if I am happy to see a priest locked up for doing what he sincerely believes is right, however misguided or absurd is his behaviour. He would argue that if the culprit imagined there was the slightest chance any priest would break such a solemn oath, the priest would never have gained the knowledge of the crime in the first place.

What do you think?

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