We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Cardinal Seán Brady [File photo] Photocall Ireland

Shatter insists mandatory reporting will apply to priests despite Cardinal's comments

Cardinal Seán Brady has said that the seal of the confession is inviolable and that any attempt to undermine it is a challenge to the right of Catholics to freedom of religion.

THE MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter is insisting that legislation on mandatory reporting of crimes contained in the Criminal Justice bill will “apply regardless of any internal rules of any religious grouping”.

It comes in the wake of comments made by Cardinal Seán Brady yesterday, which have been seen as an attack on the new rules which will make it an offence not to report a crime, including admissions of child abuse made to a priest during confession.  The Criminal Justice Bill is set to be introduced later this year.

Speaking to pilgrims in Knock yesterday to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Mother Teresa Cardinal Brady said that confession was a “sacred and precious rite” and that that any attempt to undermine it represents a “challenge to the very basis of a free society”. While he did not make direct reference to the legislation he did say:

The inviolability of the seal of confession is so fundamental to the very nature of the Sacrament that any proposal that undermines that inviolability is a challenge to the right of every Catholic to freedom of religion and conscience.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told that the government is determined that the legislation will be enacted in the next parliamentary session, and that child protection is the central focus and concern of the government, along with the reporting of allegations of child abuse to the Gardaí:

It is the failure in the past to make such reports that had led sexual predators into believing that they have impunity and facilitated paedophiles preying on children and destroying their lives.

Last month Minister for Children Francis Fitzgerald insisted that there would be no exemptions for priests who heard admissions of child abuse during confession. The minister said that the new rules on mandatory reporting would apply to everyone and that there will be ” no exceptions, no exemptions”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme today Monsignor Hugh Connolly, president of St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth said that the seal of the confession is “positive and central” to the universal teaching of the church. He also said that he felt that the focus on the issue of the confessional seal as part of the wider debate has been “somewhat overdone”.

Read Cardinal Brady’s full homily here>

New row between Church and State over ‘privileged’ confessions

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.