Church Under Attack. Bans On the Sacrament of Confession

Church Under Attack. Bans On the Sacrament of Confession

 

Sandro Magister – 8/19/18

Pope Francis continues to enjoy great popularity in public opinion worldwide. But toward the Catholic Church the climate is much more hostile. There are growing attacks being carried out by governments and public institutions against what most distinguishes and identifies it on its own terrain, for instance the sacrament of confession.

In Australia, in the territory of the capital of Canberra, as of June the seal of the confessional can be prosecuted as criminal, if while administering the sacrament a priest finds out about the sexual abuse of minors and does not report it to the public authorities.

The law was approved by all the parties in response to one of the 85 recommendations of the Royal Commission tasked by the Australian government with investigating the sexual abuse of minors.

The bishops of Australia have reacted by defending the inviolability of the seal of the confessional, the criminalization of which endangers religious freedom itself.

But the premier of New South Wales, one of the states that make up the Australian federation, has already asked that the law be discussed and approved at the federal level, making it valid for the whole country.

In India, at the end of June, the National Commission for Women made a recommendation to the government of New Delhi that it outlaw the sacrament of confession in the whole country, for the sake of preventing the “blackmail” that priests could exercise against women.

The Commission is an agency of the central government charged with formulating policies and plans of action on behalf of women in India. Its president, Rekha Sharma, has justified the request by making reference to two recent cases of abuse that took place in Punjab and Kerala.

The first case involves the bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun between 2014 and 2016. While the second concerns five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church suspended for having forced a woman to have sexual relations with them, threatening to reveal to her husband a previous extramarital relationship that she told about in confession.

The Kerala Catholic bishops’ council has branded the commission’s request as “unconstitutional.” And the cardinal of Mumbai, Oswald Gracias, president of the episcopal conference of India and a member of the “C9,” the council of nine cardinals that assists Pope Francis in the governance of the universal Church, has accused the commission of betraying “a total lack of understanding of the nature, meaning, sanctity and importance of this sacrament for our people” and of having no respect for the religious freedom “guaranteed by the Indian constitution.”

But the cases of Australia and India are not the first or the only ones in which the sacrament of confession has come under attack.

Already in 2011, in an Ireland rocked by the explosion of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, the prime minister at the time, Enda Kenny, maintained that “priests should have the obligation under the law to report cases of abuse disclosed in confession.”

And in 2014 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – which determines how the finalized conventions are to be applied to member states, including Vatican City – publicly criticized “the code of silence” that blocks “under pain of excommunication” members of the Catholic clergy from reporting to the authorities the abuse that they become aware of in confession.

The committee went so far as to order that the Church adjust its code of canon law in this sense, not distinguishing it from the laws of Vatican City State.

On that occasion, the Holy See had presented to the UN committee a report on how it applies the norms in defense of children. The presentation of the report is not obligatory, and since then the Holy See has avoided it, partly so as not to give the committee a cue – in examining and commenting on the report – to renew its pressure for the abolition of the sacramental seal.

And that’s not all. In Chile, the magistrates who are investigating sexual abuse committed by bishops and priests, and who have already called in to testify, among others, Santiago archbishop and cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, are considering whether to question Pope Francis himself, on the basis of crimes – like the destruction of compromising archives – that he denounced in the letter to the Chilean bishops of last May.

The idea of putting the pope in the dock is not new. In 2010, two American organizations that deal with victims of sexual abuse by priests had sent to the international tribunal of the AIA the request to summon for testimony the pope, who at the time was Benedict XVI.

There was no follow-up to the request, in part because of the simple fact that the pope is a head of state. But it had a substantial public impact, just as it could now in Chile.

This is one of the many ways in which the Church today finds itself under attack by the powers of the world, on the basis of criteria that are foreign or hostile to it.

Another of these points of attack is the demand that woman have “equal rights” and therefore also be “ordained” to become part of the Church’s hierarchy.

Or again the demand of political authorities that they be the ones to appoint the bishops. A demand against which the Church has fought and struggled for centuries, to get free from it. Only to run the risk once again of giving in, precisely on this crucial point, to that new global superpower which is called China.

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
http://angelqueen.org/2018/08/19/church-under-attack-bans-on-the-sacrament-of-confession/
Get AQ Email Updates
AQ RSS Feed

Leave a Reply