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Irish justice minister: priests must break seal of confession in abuse cases

June 13, 2012

Ireland’s justice minister has confirmed that Catholic priests are required by law to break the seal of confession to report abuse of children.

Alan Shatter said that new legislation requiring reports of abuse allow for no exceptions. The justice minister said that although a priest might claim some exception for sacramental confession, there would be no legal basis for that claim. He acknowledged that the matter would likely be settled by Ireland’s courts if a test case arose.

Irish priests have indicated that they will not violate the seal of confession regardless of the law.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: rpp - Jun. 14, 2012 5:34 PM ET USA

    I am reminded of the Hitchcock thriller, "I Confess" where a priest is accused of a murder after the man who confessed the murder to him frames him. That was a very good movie about what really motivates a faithful priest.

  • Posted by: aclune9083 - Jun. 13, 2012 10:02 PM ET USA

    The seal of confession traces back to the earliest Church fathers and is codified in the Capitularies of Charlemagne, first capitulary for 813, Article XXVII ( Stand firm, blessed priests of Ireland; the enemy waits to devour you and the whole faith.

  • Posted by: ColmCille - Jun. 13, 2012 8:32 PM ET USA

    Of course they will not violate the seal. The seal of confession has been broken so rarely that violations might as well be non-existent, something which is remarkable considering the Church has had its share of corrupt priests through the ages. It is a grace, and thank God for it, because if priests started breaking the seal, people would stop going to confession. And even one person dying without being reconciled to God is a far greater tragedy than even the abuse of children.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 13, 2012 7:44 PM ET USA

    Let's hear it for the bishops and priests who get arrested for refusing to break the seal of confession. If the Catholic Irish people do not protest this breathtaking affront to their religious expression they deserve what they get — the old jackboot on the neck. What the English couldn't do to them relativism has.