Legal Proposal Endangers Freedom of Religion by Seeking to Interfere with the Seal of Confession

Country: Ireland

Date of incident: September 11, 2011

The Irish Government is „set on passing a law that will require priests to break the seal of confession if they hear about child abuse in the confessional.

This is virtually without precedent in the Western world,“ reports the Iona Institute. A mandatory reporting requirement for child abuse, which does not explicitly exempt Catholic priests, would make priests liable for not breaking the seal of confession. This means, that the „Government is proposing a law that no Catholic priest can obey without breaking his vows. In other words, it is passing a law that priests are duty-bound to break.“ The Iona Institute also fears, that this law would be likely be counter-productive: „Offenders are extremely unlikely to confess to a priest if they fear the priest will then go to the civil authorities. This will prevent priests persuading offenders to seek amends.“ Journalist Stephen Collins of The Irish Times has condemned the proposal by calling it "both pointless and gratuitously insulting to practising Catholics". We thank the Iona Insitute for reporting. Please view: