Thursday, April 26, 2012

Irish Goverment To Criminalise Seal Of Confession

Blink and you'll miss it!  The new law on mandatory report is ready to go and will be brought before the houses of parliament here in Ireland in the coming weeks.  The law will compel everyone who has received information on abuse to report it to the authorities, to fail to do so will mean time in prison - five to ten years.

Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, has confirmed that priests who receive information in the context of confession are also obliged to report what they have heard.  In other words: under this new Irish law priests must break the Seal of the Confession or face prison.  Lest any of our friends outside Ireland still harbour illusions about Catholic Ireland - it is well and truly dead.  If I may lean on W.B. Yeats, "it's with O'Connell in the grave".

No doubt there will be a challenge.  The first prosecution of a priest, if it happens (it will be extremely difficult for the DPP to prove what a priest heard or did not hear in confession), will lead to a constitutional challenge because this law may indeed infringe our right under the Constitution to religious freedom, and as confession is part of the formal beliefs and practices of our Catholic faith, to seek to desecrate it, is a direct attack on religious freedom.

We shall see where this goes.  The bill will be passed - the government has an absolute majority, and I doubt if too many of the Catholic members of either Fine Gael or Labour will object: one tends to find that party affiliation trumps faith all the time (although God will put them straight on that one day).  However, I will be hopeful, perhaps some may challenge it. 

St John Nepomuk, Patron Saint of Confessors, put to death by the secular authorities because he would not reveal what he heard in confession.


  1. I think it will be challenged. One thing I disagree with above though, is that I don't think Catholic Ireland is dead. These people want Catholic Ireland dead, the Socialists have a very clear agenda concerning this, and Enda Kenny is an a la carte Catholic, but the faith is stronger than ever. Catholics need to mobilise and vocalise to counteract all this crazy nonsense.

  2. "Lest any of our friends outside Ireland still harbour illusions about Catholic Ireland - it is well and truly dead." ? Who is the Church - clergy, religious, laity. We are the Church and many in Ireland live their faith to the full. God works ahead and the soil is being turned over for new harvest. Lest any of our friends outside Ireland still harbour illusions about Catholic Ireland - be sure it is very much alive. The high waves of anti-church agenda are seen but God is in charge and we listen to Him in the calm waters of the soul.

  3. Donum Vitae and Clo Mhuire. Lest you both misunderstand me. Catholic Ireland as an entity in which most citizens adhere to the Catholic faith and her teachings, and where the Church is respected and given a special hearing, is dead. Catholic Ireland in which the law of the land respects the teachings of the Catholic Church, and respects the consciences of her adherents is, for now, dead: that's my point here. Many outside Ireland think that the Catholic faith still has an important influence in the fabric of Irish society - that is becoming less and less true as the years pass. There are signs of new growth, thank God, but we also see signs of a major apostasy from the faith. At the moment the veneer of Catholicism is still there - secular people who abhor the Church's teachings still claim to be Catholic and use her sacraments as rites of passage. It is not being negative to acknowledge this, nor to deny that a New Evangelisation may well change the hearts of Irishmen and women: I pray it will, and we work to achieve that. We must, however, be careful not to be naive and think, as those in Rome were told for years, that all is well and Ireland is as "semper fidelis" as she always was. The faith is strong in many people, and we must consolidate our position, but it is also weak and non existant in many, even in the 80% who claimed to be Catholic in the recent census.

  4. The Holy Father has said that the Church will get smaller but will be a more fervent Church. I think the Lord is clearing out His House of all the lukewarmness and nonsense which we have had to put up with for so long, and we all have to decide do we want to stay with the Church and its teachings or not. And that division is becoming clearer each day. I agree with Fr. Director..

  5. I think Shatter may well do an Obama on this one: Obama united bishops in the US in opposition to the contraception mandate, Shatter could unite bishops, priests, laity and the dissident clergy in the ACP with his attack on the Seal. If it comes to defending the sacramental Seal I'll stand beside Fr Flannery and co on a picket any day.....but not on their other issues!

  6. We have a positive duty to oppose unjust, invalid "laws"!