Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Archbishop Fisher: Priests will suffer punishment before breaking confessional seal

Amid attacks on the seal of confession in Australia, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney has said priests will suffer punishment before betraying their sacred obligations.

Confession “is threatened today both by neglect and attack. But priests, we know, will suffer punishment, even martyrdom, rather than break the seal of Confession,” Archbishop Fisher said April 1 during his homily for Easter Sunday at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

“For Confession is a privileged encounter between penitent and God; here the Christian enters the silence and secrecy of the Tomb, to be re-Eastered; and no earthly authority may enter there.”

Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended last year that priests be legally obliged to disclose details of sexual abuse revealed in the confessional, and that failure to do so be made a criminal offense.

Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne has also opposed any moves to mandate violation of the seal, having said that confession “is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognized in the Law of Australia and many other countries. It must remain so here in Australia…(but) outside of this, all offenses against children must be reported to the authorities, and we are absolutely committed to doing so.”

The Archbishop of Sydney's comments came as part of his teaching on the sacraments and eternal life.

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