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Anglicans in Australia abandon seal of confession for serious crimes

July 03, 2014

Anglican leaders in Australia have unanimously approved a proposal to abandon the confessional seal, authorizing priests to disclose information about serious crimes such as sexual abuse.

The General Synod in Australia, meeting on July 2, passed an amendment to the Anglican canon on confessional secrecy. The change must now be approved by individual dioceses, but Anglican leaders said that they would press for that approval.

The confessional seal has been a subject of tense political debate in Australia, with Catholic Church leaders insisting that it is inviolable. Their Anglican counterparts approved a proposal that would allow priests to disclose sins if they involved criminal offenses that would carry a penalty of more than five years' imprisonment, and the penitent had not already confessed to police.


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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jul. 06, 2014 11:40 AM ET USA

    The roots of Anglican worship have from the beginning been buried in the soil of the state, not in that of the New Testament. This is merely the latest manifestation of this sorry truth. There are good Anglicans everywhere. It's time for them to follow the example of other good Anglicans like John Henry Newman and Ronald Knox.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 04, 2014 1:31 PM ET USA

    As time goes on (the pace of which has quickened), the protestant churches are moving further and further away from the one true Faith.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jul. 04, 2014 11:57 AM ET USA

    Another institution selling its soul to appease the barbarians at the gate!

  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Jul. 04, 2014 8:19 AM ET USA

    With the possibility of being shopped to the police now a virtual certainty, no Anglicans in Australia who are in conscience guilty of any serious sin and crime will go anywhere near the confessional. Not that many of them did so before this very strange ruling, but the few who did will now wonder if the latitude to disclose details of a confession could possibly be extended to include less strictly illegal activity, leading to the promotion of gossip.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 04, 2014 12:45 AM ET USA

    This decision makes no sense whatsoever - besides the question of actual "sacramentality" of Anglican confessions. Penitents will be confessing only safe-to-tell select little sins or abandon confessions before clergymen altogether. Also, Catholic-Anglican ecumenical "dialogue" is no longer possible in these new circumstances.

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Jul. 03, 2014 11:43 PM ET USA

    Good for civil society. Bad for sinners. The CoE seems to be in a hurry to escape from its mission.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Jul. 03, 2014 10:12 PM ET USA

    UH-OH. Another good reason to be a real Catholic.