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Irish woman's complaint illustrates confusion about confessional seal

Catholic World News - August 31, 2011

An Irish woman who says that she was abused by a priest in a confessional has told reporters that she feels "hurt" by the statements of priests who insist that they would never violate the secrecy of the confessional.

The woman's complaint, which has earned some coverage in the Irish media, illustrates the profound confusion over the meaning of the confessional seal. The seal does not protect priests from misbehavior in the confessional; it only protects penitents from having their sins revealed to the public.

A proposal by the Irish government, which would require priests to disclose confessions of sexual abuse, would have no effect at all on outrages such as the one the woman recalls enduring as a child.

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