- Two bills in Delaware and Vermont are looking to remove the religious right of Catholic priests to withhold information given to them during a confession to protect children from abuse, but Catholic advocates argue that these bills will only harm the church.
- Lawmakers have argued that mandatory reporting must extend to everyone, including the Catholic church to fully protect children from abuse or neglect.
- "I haven't seen any evidence that the seal of confession has impeded the prosecution of domestic abuse or child abuse, [and] as a mother of ten children, I am very serious when it comes to the safety of my children, so I do not want to downplay abuse …our church has had a terrible history of abuse," Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, strategy consultant and media fellow at the IHE, mother of ten, and director of the Conscience Project, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Two bills proposed by state elected officials would remove the Catholic Church's right to the "seal of confession" protecting priests' right to refuse to provide private information divulged during confessionals, and Catholic advocates warn it could be a slippery slope when it comes to protections for religious freedom.
Delaware HB 74 and Vermont Sen. Bill 16 were introduced earlier this year by Democratic Rep. Eric Morrison and Democratic Sen. Richard Sears, respectively, to prevent child abuse, according to the bills' texts. The legislation would amend state law to prohibit any clergy member from asserting the right to a privileged conversation during confessions if information about child abuse or neglect is revealed, but advocates warn it will not help prevent abuse and only deprive churches of their First Amendment rights. (RELATED: US Bishops Warn Against Catholic Doctors Performing 'Gender Transition Procedures')
"This is not the first time this has come up," President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family Thomas McKenna told the Daily Caller News Foundation. "But what is at stake here is the real persecution of our Catholic faith because confession is not a therapy session…discussion or therapy group, because when a person comes to confession the priest is acting in the person of Christ. This would be a persecution of the Catholic church because a priest would go to jail before they would reveal someone's sins."
"Catholics see this as an act between them and God …and a First Amendment right to worship God." Father Aquinas Guilbeau, a Dominican Friar and a fellow with the Institute for Human Ecology (IHE) told the DCNF.
The Catholic tradition of confession is a process during which an individual confesses their sins to a priest and subsequently asks for pardon from God, according to Catholic doctrine. The practice is considered one of the church's sacraments, a ritual of divine importance, such as baptism or communion and revealing the information disclosed during confession is punishable by excommunication.
SAN DIEGO – MARCH 1: Protestors and alleged sexual abuse victims stand outside of The Jacob Weinburg Courthouse during a vigil to bring attention to victims of sexual abuse by religious leaders within the Catholic church on March 1, 2007, in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
The bills appear to be aimed specifically at the Catholic church, likely in light of the discovery of rampant sexual abuse of minors by priests, according to NPR. Multiple reports have been released over the past several years and Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned the abuse, as well as his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict.
Sears' bill is currently stalled after missing a committee deadline on March 17, but he told VTDigger that "[i]t'd be dead for this year but it wouldn't be dead for next year." Morrison said in a Facebook post on March 21, that his bill was "in the best interests of our children" and that "all Delawareans should be mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect."
Sears and Morrison did not respond to multiple requests by the DCNF for comment.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, strategy consultant and media fellow at the IHE, mother of ten, and director of the Conscience Project, an organization dedicated to defending the "rights of conscience" for religious believers, told the DCNF that these bills would not help prevent abuse.
"I haven't seen any evidence that the seal of confession has impeded the prosecution of domestic abuse or child abuse, [and] as a mother of ten children, I am very serious when it comes to the safety of my children, so I do not want to downplay abuse …our church has had a terrible history of abuse," Picciotti-Bayer said. "But I don't think there is any justification for lifting the privilege and I actually am worried that it will expose vulnerable people because the confession is often the first step [for the abused] to recognize that a crime is being committed."
Ed Condon, a media fellow at IHE and canon lawyer, told the DCNF that while he was confident the bills would not pass, the legal ramifications of this kind of legislation sets a standard that is very vague and may create a slippery slope for religious freedom.
"That's one of the reasons why these bills tend to fail because they are unenforceable," Condon said. "You can't put a cop in the confessional to make sure the priest is reporting instances of child abuse. What a Catholic priest can do, and they do, is if they learn of an instance of child abuse in the confessional is to encourage the person to make the matter known to law enforcement."
Condon further explained that these types of laws were often an effort by elected officials who wanted "to look tough on the Catholic Church" in light of the abuse from clergy members but said it wasn't an "effective means" of doing so.
Brian Burch, the president of CatholicVote, a Catholic advocacy nonprofit, told the DCNF that he was concerned about an attempt by a state government to "invade" the practices of Catholics.
"The goal is to harm the Catholic Church, to diminish its role in society and to undermine its efforts to serve the needs of its members in favor of a more extreme secular remake of culture," Burch said.
Guilbeau pointed to his congregation and other Catholic churches, saying that they need a place to go where they can unburden themselves without fear of repercussions. He noted that even in situations when a priest would be told about a crime during a confessional, they always encourage the individual to tell the appropriate authorities or speak with the priest outside of the confessional so they can report it.
Guilbeau also echoed McKenna's earlier remark that Catholic priests have proven time and time again that they would rather go to jail before violating the seal of confession.
All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter's byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact [email protected] .
- Muslim leader joins Pope in condemning bombing of Catholic church
- Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Redbridge MPs urge bishop to axe Catholic schools academisation plan
- ISIS claims responsibility for Mindanao church bombing, Guam archbishop calls for prayers
- Letters to the Editor: 'I’m one of tens of thousands the State has failed through the housing crisis'
- 'Europe’s far-right seems determined to hijack Christianity in its bid for power'
- Church inches forward in bankruptcy and settlements
- Pope has chance to change church's response to scandal, campaigner says
- Guam Catholics to protest abortion on Roe v. Wade anniversary
- Supermodel Takes On Catholic Poland
- Human Rights Commission calls for review of Electoral Act
- Where was Martin Luther King assassinated, who was the civil rights activist and what are his most memorable quotes?
- What we learned from Trump's State of the Union address
|An Introduction to the Eastern Catholic Church and A Brief Explanation of the Eastern Catholic Churches DVD5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Our Father's Plan, Salvation History from Genesis to the Catholic Church (3 VHS videos)5.0★ / $6.49||100 Activities Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, For Grades 1 to 8 check it now at Amazon||Catholic Answers to Fundamentalists' Questions: Revised, Expanded, and Referenced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church$7.99||History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium$34.95||Doing the Right Thing at Work: A Catholic's Guide to Faith, Business and Ethics3.0★ / $10.99||Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church$16.95||Key Moments in Church History: A Concise Introduction to the Catholic Church (The Come & See Series)$27.43||Guide to State Legislative Lobbying, Third Edition$7.96||Handbook for Today's Catholic: Fully Indexed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (A Redemptorist Pastoral Publication)$8.48||A Closet Catholic Comes Out--and Avoids the Cafeteria: the Story of My Journey to the Catholic Church check it now at Amazon||Cry Of The People: The Struggle For Human Rights In Latin America - The Catholic Church In Conflict With U. S. Policy$5.43||Why Do Catholics Do That?: A Guide to the Teachings and Practices of the Catholic Church$12.19||Home at Last: 11 Who Found Their Way to the Catholic Church check it now at Amazon||Shattered Faith: A Woman's Struggle to Stop the Catholic Church from Annulling Her Marriage$12.99||Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers: A Companion to The Catechism of the Catholic Church$10.99||Why Do Catholics Genuflect?: And Answers to Other Puzzling Questions About the Catholic Church$14.9||Annulments & the Catholic Church: Straight Answers to Tough Questions3.8★ / $13.99||Annulment: Your Chance to Remarry Within the Catholic Church: A Step-by-Step Guide Using the New Code of Canon Law$16.99||For the Defense of Themselves and the State: The Original Intent and Judicial Interpretation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms$98.51||Costume of Prelates of the Catholic Church, According to Roman Etiquette (Classic Reprint)$14.44||Life Planning in New Mexico: Your Guide to State Law on Powers of Attorney, Right to Die, Nursing Ho$43||Could You Ever Come Back to the Catholic Church?$10.93||African American Catholic Church: Introduction to Mass, Prayers ,Rosary and Angels check it now at Amazon||Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks$62.95||Concise Guide to Your Rights in the Catholic Church$11.94||The Battle for Rights in the United States Catholic Church$7.74||What the Church Means to Me A Frank Confession and a Friendly Estimate by an Insider check it now at Amazon||Right to Bear Arms Seal Lapel or Hat Pin check it now at Amazon||Internet Privacy Rights: Rights to Protect Autonomy (Cambridge Intellectual Property and Information Law Book 24)$112.1|
State Legislation Could Strip Catholic Churches’ Right To Protect Members ‘Sealed Confessions’ have 1816 words, post on dailycaller.com at March 26, 2023. This is cached page on USA Posts. If you want remove this page, please contact us.