NEW LAWS PROPOSED in a Bill announced by Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday may not be adhered to by Catholic priests, it has emerged today.
There is some confusion over whether members of the clergy will be bound by law to report suspicions of sex abuse crimes if they heard the pertinent information during confessions.
However, any suspicions or knowledge garnered outside the confession box must be reported under the new Bill. Withholding such information could be punishable by a minimum of five years imprisonment.
According to the Irish Independent, some priests have showed their unwillingness to break the Seal of Confession in any circumstance. Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Raymond Field said the seal is “inviolable” and the matter should end there.
Although Shatter said that he expects all reports of sex abuse crimes to be referred to the Gardaí, priests may be exempt from prosecution through a legal loophole as the proposed legislation says that withholding information will not be punishable if another enactment entitles a person to refuse to disclose.
What do you think? Should priests be forced to break the Seal of Confession or face imprisonment?