Monday, 18 December 2017

Catholic church dismisses key recommendations from landmark inquiry into child abuse.
Melissa Davey. THE GUARDIAN

Leaders of the Catholic church in Australia have quickly dismissed calls from a landmark inquiry into child sexual abuse that the Vatican should make celibacy for priests voluntary and end the secrecy of confession.
After five years of work, Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse delivered its 21-volume report to government containing 400 recommendations – 189 of them new – to governments and organisations about how to prevent children being harmed on such a scale again.
It found the inadequacy of canon law contributed to the failure of the Catholic church to protect children and report or punish perpetrators within church institutions.
The commission urged the Australian Catholic bishops conference to ask the Vatican to reform canon law by removing provisions that “prevent, hinder or discourage compliance with mandatory reporting laws by bishops or religious superiors”.
“We recommend that canon law be amended so that the ‘pontifical secret’ does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse,” the report said.
It also said the conference should urge the Vatican to rethink its celibacy rules. The commission found that while celibacy for clergy was not a direct cause of abuse, it elevated the risk when compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious figures had privileged access to children.
But the archbishop of the archdiocese of Melbourne, Denis Hart, responded by saying the seal of the confessional was “inviolable” and “can’t be broken”. He said if someone confessed to abusing children, he would encourage them to admit to their crimes outside the confessional so that it could be reported to police.
“I would feel terribly conflicted, and I would try even harder to get that person outside confessional, but I cannot break the seal,” he said. “The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication.”


Hart said the commission “hasn’t damaged the credibility of the church”.
In August, Hart upset many abuse survivors and advocates when he said he would risk going to jail rather than report allegations of child sexual abuse raised during confession. He was responding to a recommendation the commission published earlier this year that called for failure to report child sex abuse in institutions to be made a criminal offence.
Hart reiterated those views on Friday and said that he did not expect canon law to change. He said there was “real value” in celibacy, and did not want laws to be changed.
“I think it’s taken time for bishops to realise the seriousness of the matter” of child sexual abuse, he said.
The Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said the report would take him time to digest. “It will not sit on any shelf,” he said. “I will study the findings and recommendations carefully, and then provide a detailed response as we discern, with the rest of the community, the best way forward.
However, like Hart, he dismissed calls to change confession. Changing mandatory reporting of abuse that comes to light through confession was “a distraction,” he said.
“While we are yet to study what the commission has had to say about that, I think everyone understands that this Catholic and orthodox practice of confession is always confidential,” he said. “Any proposal to stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians.”
On celibacy rules, he said: “We know very well that institutions who have celibate clergy and institutions that don’t have celibate clergy both face these problems. We know very well that this happens in families that are certainly not observing celibacy.”
The commission is the largest inquiry of its kind conducted since the first reports of what became a global child abuse scandal emerged in the US.
The report found an overwhelming amount of the abuse reported to the commission occurred in faith-based institutions. Almost 2,500 survivors told the commission about sexual abuse in an institution managed by the Catholic church, representing 61.8% of all survivors who reported sexual abuse in a religious institution.
“In many religious institutions, the power afforded to people in religious ministry and the misplaced trust of parents combined with aspects of the institutional culture, practices and attitudes to create risks for children,” the report said.
“Alleged perpetrators often continued to have access to children even when religious leaders knew they posed a danger.
“We heard that alleged perpetrators were often transferred to other locations but they were rarely reported to police. The failure to understand that the sexual abuse of a child was a crime with profound impacts for the victim, and not a mere moral failure capable of correction by contrition and penance (a view expressed in the past by a number of religious leaders) is almost incomprehensible.”
The report said the Australian Catholic bishops conference should conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of dioceses and parishes, including in relation to issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and the participation of lay men and women.
The commission also called for the selection criteria for employing bishops to be published, including their credentials relating to the promotion of child safety. The commission called on churches to “establish a transparent process for appointing bishops which includes the direct participation of lay people”. 
It found that Catholic schools in the archdiocese of Melbourne had a “dysfunctional” employment structure, where the parish priest is the employer of the school principal and school staff for parish schools.
“There is a risk that having the priest as employer could act as a barrier to people reporting concerns about child sexual abuse,” the report found. “We recommend that parish priests should not be the employers of principals and teachers in Catholic schools.”
The commissioners found numerous cases where alleged perpetrators were priests associated with Catholic schools.
“We concluded that the relevant bishop or archbishop knew about allegations of child sexual abuse but failed to take appropriate action to protect children from the risk of abuse, sometimes for years. Their inaction left these priests in positions where they had ongoing access to children in Catholic schools. It was left to principals and teachers to attempt to manage the risk these individuals posed to children.”
Among the other recommendations were that federal, state and territory governments should fund dedicated community support services for victims and survivors in each jurisdiction; that the federal government should conduct and publish a national study to establish the extent of child maltreatment in institutional and non-institutional settings; that each state and territory make the failure to report suspicions of abuse a crime, and also remove any remaining limitation periods, or any remaining immunities, that apply to child sexual abuse offences, including historical child sexual abuse offences.
The commission, led by Justice Peter McClellan, heard stories of abuse that occurred in more than 4,000 institutions ranging from religious organisations and sporting clubs to schools and orphanages. More than 15,000 people contacted the commission with evidence.
More than 8,000 people spoke to a commissioner during a private sessions, while hundreds more told their stories through public hearings that lasted 444 days. The commission referred many allegations of abuse to police, which to date has resulted in 230 prosecutions.
Two versions of the report were delivered to the government on Friday, one of which has been redacted for publication until a number of criminal proceedings have been completed.
Inquiries into the sexual abuse of children have been conducted worldwide, with Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse finding abuse in church-run institutions including schools was endemic. But that commission has been criticised for its limited scope, and did not examine the external impact of the abuse or name perpetrators to the extent that Australia’s royal commission already has. A British inquiry into child sexual abuse, still under way, has been marred by controversy. Its head, Dame Lowell Goddard, was forced to step down in 2016 after it was revealed she had spent extensive time on holiday.
Australia’s commission has been consistently praised by survivors, their advocates and experts for its uncompromising investigation of institutional abuse. It conducted 57 case studies, resulting in 45 reports to government, culminating in Friday’s final report. It has employed almost 700 staff since its inception in 2013, who examined more than 1.2m documents. McClellan chaired the commission throughout. The royal commission reviewed more than 300 reports published in the past 28 years, using many of these to inform its work.
The royal commission was first announced on 12 November 2012 by the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, who said allegations that had come to light about child sexual abuse were heartbreaking.
“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” she said at the time. “The individuals concerned deserve the most thorough of investigations into the wrongs that have been committed against them. They deserve to have their voices heard and their claims investigated.”
On Friday she thanked the six commissioners for their work.
“Our nation is indebted to you and to the survivors who fought so hard for justice and a safer future for our children,” she said. The current prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told reporters the commission’s work had uncovered a “national tragedy”.
 “Above all, I want to thank and honour the courage of the survivors and their families who’ve told, often for the first time, the dreadful stories of abuse that they received from people who actually owed them love and protection,” he said.
Turnbull has come under pressure for already ignoring recommendations made by the royal commission around a national redress scheme for survivors. The federal government’s redress legislation has attracted criticism for excluding abuse survivors who have been convicted of serious crimes, and for capping redress at $150,000. The royal commission recommended a cap of $200,000. The legislation has been referred to a Senate inquiry by the shadow social services minister, Jenny Macklin. State and territory governments have also been slow to commit to the legislation.
The commission found: “We heard from some survivors about their negative experiences with diocese-based redress schemes, including delays, inconvenient processes, and perceptions that the maximum payments available through these schemes were inadequate.
Experts have already expressed concerns that the commission’s recommendations will only be as effective as the state, territory and federal governments and institutions tasked with implementing them.
The commissioners’ report found 64.3% of survivors were men. More than half were aged between 10 and 14 years when they were first sexually abused, though female survivors generally reported being younger. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprised 14.3% of survivors, and 93.8% of survivors told the commission they were abused by a male. The commission found 83.8% of survivors were abused by an adult, and the average duration of child sexual abuse experienced in institutions was 2.2 years. Of survivors, 36.3% said they were abused by multiple perpetrators.

“A national memorial should be commissioned by the Australian government for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts,” the report recommended. “Victims and survivors should be consulted on the memorial design and it should be located in Canberra.”


The Roman Catholic Church - or any church for that matter - cannot be above the law in whatever country it is in.

For far too long in many jurisdictions - including our own - the RC Church has indeed been above the law and has gotten away with heinous crimes that others did not get away with.

Bishops, priests and other officials of the RC Church should receive the same treatment at law as all other citizens - no more and no less.

If the Australians bring in a lot requiring priests who hear of crimes in Confession to report them to the authorities then the Church must:

A. Comply.

B. Disobey.

If bishops and priests disobey then they should be prosecuted for their criminal disobedience. 

Ig a bishop or priest feels strongly enough about the "seal of Confession" then let them stand up for their principles and be prosecuted and jailed.

Somehow I am not so sure we will find too many "martyrs" among the clergy of today.

The Church is free to put notices outside Confession boxes which state:


Then those who have committed the crimes will know what they face and will be free to confess or not.

In any event, nobody needs a priest's absolution to be forgiven by God.

Any of us can kneel before God and truly confess any sin that we are truly sorry for and be forgiven by God.

The Sacrament of Confession, while to be appreciated in many respects, is NOT  necessary for forgiveness.

The sacrament is an OUTWARD sign of repentance and forgiveness.

Are we really claiming that God CAN ONLY FORGIVE through the Confessional? That is not true.

Doctors, social workers, counselors and therapists are all required to report crimes they hear in the course of their work to the police.

What is good for the PROFESSIONAL GOOSE is equally good for the RELIGIOUS GANDER!!!


  1. You are a heretic Buckley. Beware of following this ‘Bishop’ to Hell due to his preaching of error!

    1. The Roman Catholic Church, for many centuries, has made exceptions to Jesus' teaching, not that we should love our enemies, but that we MUST love them. The institutional Church's precepts in support of capital punishment and so-called 'just' war are a direct and grave violation of that teaching, a very serious error indeed. How many people down the centuries have driven themselves to Hell because of these man-made rationalisations?

      I'm sure such a faithful follower of the institutional Church as you can recall that the Gospel records Jesus' quoting Isaiah on precisely this kind of moral compromise: 'Woe to those that call evil good and good evil.'

      Why does such rationalisation elicit from Jesus a 'woe'? Quite simply, because it prevents a person's repenting.

  2. Then, would that mean that a priest in Confession has to instantly decide, within seconds of hearing one person's (the penitent) side of the story whether this person is a criminal or not? In other words, he has to make a one-man instant rash judgment on something that might have a court jury arguing and agonising for weeks about before finally perhaps returning a "not guilty" verdict. If the rule was applied to child abuse, then it would also have to apply to murder as self defence, theft etc etc equally. The priest would be the Judge but without jury and without legal training.
    A very wise poster recently (the Midas fable and its unexpected consequences) reminded us of the crucial importance of thinking ALL implications thoroughly through before knee jerk sudden decisions or new rules were implemented. He/she gave examples of the ludicrous mess you can land society in when you have not considered the impact of unforeseen and unintended consequences! It's too late after you change the rule. So you must think. think.. THINK and consider exactly every possible scenario. I am (in addition to my original profession) a Child Protection Officer and anxious that a so-called badly thought out solution, for many different reasons, could actually make the problem worse, not least from backlash. I won't elaborate any more. I should not need to... Individual cases make bad law.
    Exceptions make bad law.
    "Instant solutions" make very bad law!

    1. For heaven's sake, if someone tells a priest that he has raped or sodomized a child, what is there to agonise about?

    2. No. The priest is not the judge. He merely passes on information to those who are trained to protect others and ultimately to make judgements rather than concealing a criminal offence and potentially allowing an abuser to continue wrecking someone’s life.

      I know I may be shouted down on this but it’s all very much a case of perception. I’m struck by what 09:31 says and moved by it.

    3. Anon @ 00:35, I'm very glad that in a former professional supervisory role I never had responsibility for managing someone with your obviously very limited understanding!
      Quoting your own words, "Think, think, think"...., ....on what Magna and A@ 11:34 say above.

    4. I am surprised MMM that you of all people didn't get the points made by poster @00.35
      Very surprised.. Well well..
      Then you take a leaf out of Magna's book and add a personal insult.
      I was even more surprised to see that but perhaps my impression of you up to now has been mistaken.. However, I am sure the poster @00. 35 will probably comment if he/she doesn't feel too disgusted at the totally unnecessary slight.

    5. Yes, the poster at 00.35
      most certainly hasn't "limited understanding" I would have thought the very opposite in fact!
      The post is thoughtful and detailed and advises us not to rush in with ill thought out rash solutions which wouldn't work.
      It's very difficult to understand how anyone could assume that this person had "limited understanding"
      Beats me!

    6. 'Rash solutions', 18:30? The Australian Royal Commission had been investigating/deliberating for (What?) five years? Its proposals are hardly rash.

      And how on Earth could it be called 'rash' to propose reporting to police a clear-cut admission in confession of, say, child rape? Why wouldn't this 'work'? Have you actually any sensible explanation for such a definitive and unqualified statement?

      No one is inclined to 'rush in with ill thought out rash solutions'. It's all in your head.

      You, and others like you, would rather put this pressing matter on an exceedingly long finger, such is your moral inertia from misguided loyalty to the institutional Church. You have nothing to shed here but darkness.

  3. The confession thing's a red herring. If it wasn't secret, child abusers would just stop confessing to it.

  4. So AB Martin has Informed us that the visit of Pope Francis I is to cost a staggering 20 million. How much does the church still owe the state in the redress scheme?

  5. I agree with you: 'Nobody needs a priest's absolution to be forgiven by God.'

    The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a stylised sign of forgiveness and re-union with God, and is beautiful for that. But it is not the only sign, stylised or otherwise.

  6. As someone who as a 9 or 10 year old once experienced a single sexual assault from a middle-aged married male relative but who, in spite of knowing nothing about what he’d tried to do to me, decided it would create less fuss in the family to keep silent - even though I knew what had happened was totally wrong, I’d like to think that if my abuser had told someone, he would have been stopped. I often wonder whether he had previously abused his own sons.

    I understand entirely the beauty of the sacrament of reconciliation and have derived great personal benefit from it. But stepping back from it, can we truly imagine an all-loving God would choose to see a child continuing to suffer over preserving the confidentiality of a penitent who frankly is very likely to repeat a sin again. Children are innocent and deserve the highest possible protection until they are more able to protect themselves. As adults - and I am a senior leader in education - we have a moral duty to do everything we can to protect the vulnerable.

    This is a very delicate area - like many issues - but in my opinion, some way must be found to protect both the integrity of the sacrament and those at risk of serious and lifelong harm. I have never forgotten for one minute what that man did to me. I can still 40+ years on feel his hands on me and remember his enjoyment at my distress as I squirmed away from him. I don’t consider myself a victim or survivor (though I suspect I am both); I’d challenge anyone to look me in the eye and say that it is better that someone like me should suffer than that an abuser who admits his criminal activity should not be stopped. A God who would prefer that is truly not a god.

    1. Genuine empathy with you Michael @ 9.31..No question about that!
      But study poster @ 00.35 earlier today, particularly the latter end of the comments.
      They are thought through and are spot on. When we seek a good solution to something as serious as this, it's very important that we don't blunder in with a hit-and-miss solution that doesn't help in the way we had envisaged and instead fails the victim. If a solution is too complicated to be workable it will be treated with derision and will be quickly abandoned.

    2. Michael, let me put a counter-argument to you, with all the respect and reverence I can muster. Imagine a child in your position, who knows that the confessional is the one place in the world where he can disclose his secret without fear of consequence. He tells the priest — possibly because he feels ashamed and thinks he is guilty; certainly because he knows this thing was wrong, and needs to tell. But he prefaces his confession: "Nothing I say in here can ever be repeated, can it Father?"

      The priest hears him or her out. He is calm, and reassuring. He tells the child, "You are innocent. You have done nothing wrong." He commends the child for his or her courage, and reassures the child that the seal is invioable. But he also suggests that the child should repeat this story to a trusted adult (whom the law mandates reporting) — "one of your teachers maybe" — who will know what to do, and will handle things responsibly.

      Kids are smart. That scenario only occurs because confession is invioable, and every child learns that in sacramental preparation. If the sacrament becomes just another chat with another adult, the secret is left untold.

      I think this scenario — the victim of abuse disclosing in a safe place — is vastly more likely than the other scenario, of a perpetrator confessing his crimes.

      I agree with you totally Michael: "we have a moral duty to do everything we can to protect the vulnerable." But I think removing the seal can do more harm than good.

    3. When a child discloses something, he or she does it for a purpose. They want something to be done and they are asking for help. I agree it’s far more likely that a child may disclose than an abuser may disclose, but equally you know this has happened and abusers have been shielded and children have continued to be at risk.

      I can see you are a very sensitive priest and see the value of the seal. I see it too. I see your genuine and correct pastoral motivation in reassuring a victim that he/she has done nothing wrong. But I also see the danger that a child may return to more danger when they are asking in a safe space for help. That surely is unconscionable? And an adult’s primary duty must be to protect a child from harm. In the UK, confidentiality cannot be promised to any child making a disclosure of abuse and I doubt it’s any different in Australia.

      If a child is at risk, they must be protected seal or no seal. Would you say “God wants me to let you be abused to preserve the sanctity of the seal”? Your suffering is less important than preserving the seal?

      I realise that this is a very difficult issue. I write as a regular communicant and member of the Church. I respectfully disagree with you.

    4. Your reasoning Michael, is very confused.. You have not thought the thing through. There are many difficulties you haven't even considered eg mistaken identity or a penitent giving the impression of being someone else. perhaps his twin...or his younger brother.. At the risk of sounding racist(I'M NOT!) the priest might find it difficult to get the identity of a member of certain Asian and African races correct as they themselves are very happy to agree that their facial characteristics can be so simple that even those new identity failure proof face recognizer electronic devices are making errors and need further improvement. There are real difficulties with this. It is not the solution.

    5. So say nothing, let someone continue to suffer? Surely professionals like the Police are equipped to investigate? I really don’t think Michael’s thinking is wrong; rather the many people who seek to defend a Church riddled with perverts and a culture of “father knows best”.

    6. Apologies.. I meant to say "facial characteristics can be so similar" "

    7. Where exactly did the poster say someone "should continue to suffer"?? He/she didn't.. The poster points out quite rightly that there needs to be better and much more failsafe ways to deal with this important matter.
      Not the same thing at all...

    8. No, you’re right. But nowhere on here has any offered a way of protecting vulnerable young people where these offences are raised in the confessional. Whilst mandatory reporting is a blunt tool and mistakes in reporting can be made, no one has yet given a useful alternative to it. Preserving a space where adult members of the community are able to connive, even unwillingly, in the covering up of abuse cannot be acceptable in a civilised society in which we all have obligations. All I have read on here today against mandatory reporting focuses purely on picking holes in it. No one has offered an alternative which means that a grave crime is passed on to be dealt with by secular authorities as it properly should be and a child’s welfare is thereby safeguarded.

      The Law has to be the Law for everyone.

    9. You are correct when you say that a good viable solution has not been forthcoming. But I think it is better to think the thing through from all aspects (as advocated by 0.35 and 12.11)than produce a botched solution which wouldn't take us forward.

  7. I do agree with you in saying that there would not be too many martyrs among the clerical ranks of today.

    I don't agree with the Australian Commission's statement linking celibacy and sexual abuse. These men who abuse minors are psychologically abnormal. The priesthood was an act of escapism that only accentuated their problems as they found themselves in positions of trust and power which they then abused.

    The victims were mainly post pubescent boys and this is a fact that the Catholic hierarchy apparently wishes to overlook. Unless this elephant in the room is unflinchingly confronted, the RCC is heading for global bankruptcy.

  8. Someone showed me that picture of you laughing and drinking a pint beside a UVF symbol at the Rangers Club on the Shankill. Are you such an idiot not to realise how offensive that is to my Catholic Father who was shot in the face by the UVF. That Picture in the Telegraph has upset many victims of UVF Catholic victims and your name is mud across West Belfast and other parts of the City. Me like others in the area had a soft spot for you but not anymore. Was speaking to my Sister in South Armagh and your name is hated there. Can you not learn. I don't expect this to be published.

    1. What happened to your Dad, RIP, was a horrible crime and tragedy and we cannot properly imagine your pain.

      There are also many Protestant people and others to whom the same thing happened at the hands of people on our own "side".

      There is no hierarchy of victims.

      However hard it is we have to look to the future and bury old hatreds and divisions.

      In my lifetime I was not found wanting when people in West Belfast and South Armagh needed my help.

      If I am to be hated for community healing efforts so be it.

  9. 10.52. Pat only learns what suits his agenda. He is too obsessed with promoting himself. When he knowingly hurts, defames, ridicules and caricatures others, he gets some kind of psycholigical benefit. He doesn't ever think through the consequences of his words or behaviour. But he'll pay no heed to your grievances or hurt. The Christmas spirit of goodwill, compassion and mercy have yet to reach the manger of his heart!

    1. You do not know me my friend.

      I spent all day yesterday getting a homeless person housed and an addict into treatment.

      AND I do not confuse goodwill, compassion and mercy with enabling, hiding and covering up abuse, corruption and Pharisaism.

    2. Pat, you shouldn't always feel the need to boast about your "good deeds". You deserve criticism, just like the way you freely and unjustly dish it out to others. You do not have the capacity to recognise your inherent contradictions and hypocricies. I know many priests,religious and good people who spend a great deal of time helping the poor and the homeless. They don't ever boast. They just do it. Somehow, you seem to want recognition for everything. Remember, it's what God sees that matters most. What a pity Magna can't behave in a gentler, kinder way. He's boorish, arrogant and nasty - all anathema to the spirit of Christmas. And I too, like the vast, vast majority of priests do not confuse goodwill, mercy & compassion with enabling or hiding abuse. That's an offensive remark to make about clergy. You should accept the genuine GOODNESS of the vast majority of priests. You Pat, can be as pharasaical as the ones Jesus condemned!!!

    3. I was not boasting.

      I was simply telling the poster that pastoral activities were very much on my agenda.

  10. Here we go again.. as sure as night follows day!.. If you say anything in defence of the Church you can bet your life within minutes you will be deemed a Pharisee. The same old story...

  11. Reader looking my email

  12. I can't figure you out Bishop Pat. Sometimes you think and write like a sincere but disillusioned Catholic. Nine times out of ten, I'm in agreement with you. But on this matter, you don't sound like a believer at all.

    For starters, the Church has never taught that God "can only forgive through the confessional." A perfect act of contrition supplies God's forgiveness; the sacrament provides absolution. I'm sure you know that, so why indulge with the straw man?

    From the non-believer's perspective, it's a given that the seal of confession should be overruled by the law of the land. The law of the land is the best stab we have at justice. But the Christian has traditionally thought differently. He or she believes in divine justice, and recognises that it's vastly superior to its flawed human counterpart.

    I, for one, will go to jail, without hesitation, rather than impugn the seal of God's tribunal. Moreover, I will make that clear to the faithful. Should any government in Australia follow the Royal Commission's recommendation (which is exceedingly unlikely, because lawyers recognise it as bad law, even if journalists do not), I will indeed display a sign similar to yours, with an important amendment:



    1. Where does God say that a priest must not disclose such appalling acts as sexual abuse of innocents should they be confessed as sins?

    2. 'Forgiveness' and 'absolution' are synonymous terms, 12:09. So if God forgives a truly repentant person, what need is there of a priest's absolution? Does God have to forgive doubly...just to be sure?

    3. Shush!... If you can't understand, just leave it today please... Don't go on and on proving nothing, but belligerence.

    4. Ah, g'wan, 13:46! Answer my point. (You can't, can you?πŸ˜†)

    5. We are forgiven, of course, by an act of sincere contrition (perfect or imperfect) - that’s what the Church teaches. In danger of dying, for example, where no priest available.

      However, it is the Lord Himself who has said to His apostles, “those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Those whose sins you retain, they are retained”.

      Jesus wants us to hear with our own ears the good news of God’s forgiveness. Sacramental confession and absolution arise from our need to be reconciled, not only with God, but also the community.

      Sin offends God but it also hurts our fellow human beings. The practice of private confession to the priest (who acts in God’s Name and on behalf of the community) developed out of compassion for human nature - sparing people the humiliation of confessing their sins publicly, which is how it was done originally.

    6. 23:46, your most important sentence was your first (and it should have been your last): 'We are forgiven, of course, by an act of sincere contrition...' Nothing more needed to be said.πŸ˜†

    7. After the Lord had healed the leper of his disease, He said “go and show yourself to the priests”. It is God Himself who has chosen human agents as His normal channels of grace. This is because God loves humanity. He does not despise the work of His hands.

    8. Yes, he did say that, but not for the reason you think.

  13. Everyone has a safeguarding responsibility to report safeguarding issues to police. The church will never change. People need to respond from the ground up. Many clergy are institutionalised and spineless

  14. 10.52
    HATE....what a terrible way to feel...
    LET GO...yes it is a very difficult journey, but well worth a try.
    God created us all...apparently.

    1. Yes, 12:37, God did create us all.

      Someone once said to me 'Magna, when God made you, he broke the mould...cos he didn't want to repeat his mistake.'

      I just took it on the chin,πŸ˜‚

    2. And then screamed abuse at him, called him an idiot and pharisee before telling him G*d broke the mould because he knew he couldn't do better.

  15. And what if a priest rushes to report an instance of serious child abuse to the police and gives the wrong name in a case of mistaken identity? Far more likely of course would be that the penitent would have been careful to choose a priest who was definitely a stranger.. But as usual Magna shoots his mouth off without thinking things through in the way the poster to whom he was replying had advocated! Honestly.. you would despair sometimes except that he is of no real influence. Just as well.

    1. Er,'Magna shoots his mouth off'? πŸ˜• Magna expressed his opinion, like everyone else (including you).

    2. Ha..! So one in the net for you, poster @ 11.53 from this morning. You certainly prophesied that correctly!

    3. 15.03. Magna, you are becomi g a more pitiable human being by the day. You say nothing that inspires. Always the supreme big mouthed "know all". For all your learning you display imnense immaturity and a paucity of empathetic/emotional intelligence. What a miserable life you live! Maybe Santa will bring you some cheer!! Boring, tiresome and nauseating.

  16. Good to see you back on line Magna x

  17. Have just read on National Catholic Reporter: the Vatican has allowed the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to lapse.

  18. A few clear-sighted posters spotted that some of the "solutions" had more holes in them than a sieve and they urged us to think more deeply and what do you know! - -, They're the people who received scathing comments. Very strange..

  19. My comment to Anon@00:35 relates specifically to his/her question, "Would that mean that a priest has to instantly decide within seconds of hearing one person's (penitent's) side of the story whether the person is a criminal or not?"
    In the context, I took that solely in relation to child abuse, and not the other red herrings of murder, theft etc. I make no comment on those other offences, or issues concerning their reporting necessity or otherwise, and I take them simply as 00:35 gilding the lily with red herrings.
    So my reference to limited understanding is directed at 00:35's claim to be a Child Protection Officer, for here, I'm obliged to wonder if 00:35 may simply be a church nominated child protection officer rather than a professionally qualified specialist child protection officer with tertiary/university qualifications and experience in the subject. (For the record, I have been, albeit now long retired
    If, as Magna points out, serious sexual abuse of a child is revealed, then furthermore, as A@11:34 points out, the priest while not the judge, to my mind has the obligation to pass the relevant information to those charged with responsibility to take preventive actions to safeguard the victim/potential victims.
    My "mind" in this matter is shaped by long professional experience of the recidivist,repetitative and devious nature of child abusers. In my book, any 'child protection officer' who does not understand the real nature of child abuse, and the above characteristics of abusers, and who places a religious concept of the 'seal of the confession' as more important than child safety, has no place at all in any child protection strategy.
    To put religious concepts before child protection is, to my mind and professional understanding indeed very limited, and I stand by that viewpoint with no apology.
    But then, as an atheist and humanist, I place no value whatsover in any religious concepts other than those which accord with and mirror best ethical principles.

    1. MMM, 19.45: good points and cogently argued. I agree - no person who does not understand the primacy of CHILDREN'S WELL BEING AND SAFETY as an absolute principle should not be in Child Safeguarding positions - anywhere. While you view matters and life from an atheistic/humanist perspective, I view same from my Christian beliefs, philosophy and theology and will only accept your opinion if it resonates with my views, shaped by my beliefs. I respect all viewpoints but hold strongly to my beliefs. However, I agree with you. CHILD SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT before all else. All of us in positions of responsibility cannot compromise on this principle.

  20. Sorry MMM, but you are wrong on several of your assumptions, not least with regard to my professional status as a Child Protection Officer. My post has absolutely nothing to do with my Church membership per se.
    But my other profession does fully qualify me to say that those additional difficulties which you dubbed "red herrings" are the very reasons why a much better solution needs to be sought and arrived at. That will not happen, and should not happen in an ad hoc fashion here. It is much too important and complicated for that superficial treatment.
    So that is why, as I said at 00.35,we really do need to think deeply.
    I have not anything further to add since I have already explained the difficulties in my earlier posts and for that reason I would consider any further responses superfluous.
    There will not be any.

    1. I'm not surprised, 20:33, that you intend making no 'further responses' on the subject of today's blog, such is the paucity of your argument. You actually sound quite huffy in your dismissal of counter-points.

      I noticed you avoided answering my post at 11:33: 'For heaven's sake, if someone tells a priest that he has raped or sodomised a child, what is there to agonise about?'

      Sometimes a solution is so simple its dazzingly obvious, but 'complex' people like you, with characteristic high dudgeon, dismiss what is clear to most others precisely because it IS clear to most others: you would rather such a solution had the rarified air of being your idea alone.

      Meanwhile, as your ego is being ever inflated with thinking 'deeply' ('interminably') on this most serious matter, vulnerable children remain at risk and in danger.

    2. Magna, you could learn from MMM - he treats others with respect, argues intelligently, rationally and carefully and never resorts to personalised insults or crass commentary and manages to inform and elicit intelligent debate. Learn how to RESPECT OTHERS.

    3. Thank God Magna, you're not teaching children or teenagers. You are such a negative individual and view life only through your narrow, prejudiced and biased perspective, spluttering poisonous venom along the way....

    4. Thank you A@ 22:48. Your perceptions are appreciated.
      And A@22:43 above: I think we agree on the absolute core necessity of the well being of vulnerable children irrespective of the origin and motivation for our beliefs.

  21. At the moment of writing Carta has posted 11 of the day’s 50 posts.

    That’s a lot of scrolling down.

  22. Thanks Magna for pointing out the paucity. As you say, some things are very obvious. While some might say "There's none so blind etc", I just have to acknowledge all our limitations but also our entitlement (and sometimes a responsibility) to put forward our view.

    1. I certainly wouldn't have used the word "paucity" to describe that lawyer's argument. You don't need to seek solace though from Magna. He waits until someone says "black" and then he jumps in with "white". But it could very easily have been vice-versa. Mostly nonsense.

    2. Agree. Paucity of argument is a semantic misnomer. It shows the user doesn’t know his Latin.,The word refers to the scarcity of something. It’s a nonsense when employed with a singular noun.

    3. 09:07, yes 'paucity' does denote this (and your) case of intelligence and erudition😁

    4. Magna, admit it, you failed Latin, didn't you.

  23. It's good to talk, except when you're worried that your sexual inclinations might get you into trouble. It's good to talk, except when you've been sexually abused and are not yet ready to name your abuser. It's good to talk, except when child abuse is an issue in your family and you don't want it all over the papers.

    More than a "religious concept", the seal of confession is a particularly strong form of professional confidentiality that allows a Catholic to ventilate even the most horrendous personal issues with a compassionate other.

  24. Sounds like Hart has sealed Pell's fate.

  25. Ha ha. I think ye're a bit late.. The real players have gone home... Silly sausage...

  26. Ha ha ol'Magna. Met your match today.. Yes siree!

    1. You are a silly and immature “child”, Magna, who always has to have the “last word”.

  27. What about your ego Magna? That's the real problem today I think... You only seem interested in attacking other posters.. I think people would not be bothered discussing with someone like that. It's a bit silly to see your main purpose in life as trying to prove others wrong! Poking your cage to get a reaction will always amuse some I suppose and I hate to tell you that you don't disappoint on that score!
    (Compare that to the dignity of 20.33)

  28. Dear Pat,
    Following your logic about the Church being subject to the law of the land where it finds itself, should a priest in Uganda be obliged to report homosexuals who have come to him for confessions, as such activities are against the law? Or drug users be reported in the Philippines? Or adulterous men and women be reported in Pakistan? It is the principle of confidentiality which is to be upheld I believe.