The Sacrament of Reconciliation is day by day facing different attacks not only from other Christian denominations but more so from this present world of secularism. The different sexual abuses committed by some ministers only fuelled the attack. Confessional is now being viewed by some as a hide out for perpetrators where the sin is confessed with no public penalty or punishment. I once witnessed a City Council Representative addressing the Presbyters of a particular Diocese in the United States of America – stating that if anyone confesses sexual abuse in the confessional, such person should be reported. The entire priests present only looked at the Bishop to give a response which would express the Church’s position on the Confessional Secrecy…. There comes conflict of allegiance to the State and to the Church. If the State is saying, “Report every case of abuse” even in the confessional, and the Church is saying, “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason” (Can. 983 §1). To whom shall the priest listen, to the State or to the Church?
This reminds me of the conflict experienced by the early Church when the apostles were told not to preach again in public. To this Peter and the apostles replied, “Better for us to obey God rather than any human authority!” (Acts 5:29) The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1467) states, “Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, THE CHURCH DECLARES THAT EVERY PRIEST WHO HEARS CONFESSIONS IS BOUND UNDER VERY SEVERE PENALTIES TO KEEP ABSOLUTE SECRECY REGARDING THE SINS THAT HIS PENITENTS HAVE CONFESSED TO HIM. HE CAN MAKE NO USE OF KNOWLEDGE THAT CONFESSION GIVES HIM ABOUT PENITENTS’ LIVES. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the “SACRAMENTAL SEAL,” because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament”
TO BE CONTINUED