Religion must be subject to the same confidentiality rule as other organisations

If professionals learn during the course of their work that a client is abusing children, they can break confidentiality and go to the police. This includes Catholic priests who may learn in the confessional that their penitents are abusing children. The Church says it should not be compelled to reveal what is told in the confessional as it is a breach of sacred trust and the sins are really confessed to Jesus and not the priest. It has no right to ask us to believe this as it is a purely religious notion. What if a councillor claims the right to break confidentiality as he has had a vision that told him it will be bad luck if he keeps it? What if I form a small sect that is told that one of the conditions of going to Heaven is that they tell nobody if I sexually abuse children? That sect has as much right to special rights as Catholicism. Size is irrelevant. Allowing Catholic priests to keep silence for any reason, is opening the way for any sect to do the same or to do worse.

To ask for the confessional to be absolutely confidential is asking for special rights. It is not about protecting people who want to confess in the hope of living a better life. The seal of confession still applies even if the person just wants to say what they have done and shows no sign of changing.

A secular state can only accept natural human grounds that confidentiality matters. Arguments such as, "God wants us not to tell" are not acceptable. And that is essentially and fundamentally the Church's argument. Confidentiality rights can only be enforced on secular grounds.

Let us ask why the law must force priests to reveal what they were told in confession.

Such a law will not be enforceable. But it is the principle that counts. The principle is that the welfare of people matter more than confidentiality and a religion's rules.

The law is implicit in laws that create the separation of Church and state.

The state has to be prepared for a case where a priest knew of a crime about to happen through confession and didn't report it to the authorities.

Arguments such as that it is a violation of religious freedom are rubbish as the law will rarely be used if at all. Such arguments are unpatriotic.

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