Catholic bishops here said they oppose laws requiring priests to break the “seal of confession” when told of possible sexual abuse.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which represents the church’s senior leadership, said almost all the recommendations from a judicial inquiry into child sexual abuse in institutions including churches and schools are acceptable.
But the bishops rejected weakening the seal, which bars priests from revealing anything they learn while hearing confessions, reports WSJ.
Irish laws signed in 2015—though yet to take effect because of concerns about inaccurate allegations—require priests and other “mandated persons” to report child abuse. But in the U.S., the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that confession is “confidential communication” after an abuse victim sued a priest for failing to report what she had told him in confession as a minor.
The state government of South Australia says its proposed law, carrying fines of up to US$7,500, would bring priests into line with teachers, doctors and child-care workers. Other Australian states and territories also plan legislation.
The church holds the seal of confession to be inviolable, on pain of excommunication, and Holy See officials have urged the church in Australia to oppose legal changes targeting the confessional seal. Some Australian priests have said they would rather go to jail than break it.
They argue that mandatory reporting risks making children less safe by discouraging abusers from admitting crimes in the confessional. It is also impractical, they say, because priests often don’t know the identity of those confessing.
“Refusing to remove the seal of confession is not because we regard ourselves as being above the law, or because we don’t value the safety of children as supremely important,” said Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the conference, on Friday.
Australia’s five-year inquiry documented decades of widespread abuse of children in Catholic institutions. According to its final report, 7% of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of sexual abuse of children between 1950 and 2010, and 62% of allegations involving religious institutions were against the Catholic Church.
Of the report’s 198 recommendations, Archbishop Coleridge said 98% are acceptable to the church. Those include being open to making celibacy voluntary, he said, saying some church laws “may have contributed to a heightened risk of child sexual abuse.”
In July the archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, said he would step down, after being convicted of concealing knowledge of child sexual abuse by another priest. He is appealing the conviction.
National and state lawmakers are discussing mandatory-reporting laws that can be applied uniformly across Australia. Lawyers for abuse survivors said the church’s intransigence on abuse allegations aired in the confessional means the government must act.
“The Catholic Church have shown clearly today that they will not act on this important measure themselves,” said Michelle James, head of abuse law at Maurice Blackburn.
Pope Francis has declined to comment on a claim that he ignored sexual abuse allegations against a senior clergyman amid speculation conservative elements in the Catholic hierarchy are using the issue to mount a “putsch” to remove the Communist heretical pontiff.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican envoy to the United States, on Saturday said he had told Francis of the allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013.
But rather than punish McCarrick, who was forced to resign last month, Vigano said Francis had lifted sanctions imposed on him by his predecessor pope Benedict XVI.
“Corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” Vigano said in an eleven-page letter published in the National Catholic Register and several conservative US Catholic publications.
The Pope adamantly refuses to address the allegation..
“I will not say a word about that. I think that the communique speaks for itself,” Francis said on his plane as he flew back from Dublin to Rome.
The timing of the letter’s release — right in the middle of Francis’s landmark trip to Ireland — has raised speculation of a campaign against the Argentinian pontiff by conservatives in the Church.
You can read the entire letter by clicking HERE.
Francis told journalists to “read the communique attentively and make your own judgement,” referring to Vigano’s letter.
“You have sufficient journalistic capacity to draw conclusions,” he went on.
“When a little time has passed and you have the conclusions perhaps I will talk,” he added.
Marxist supporters of the Pope’s heresy are panicking, fearing their “transformational” Pope is about to be deposed.
“Make no mistake. This is a coordinated attack on Pope Francis,” said an editorial article on the website of the heretical Communist National Catholic Reporter weekly.
“A putsch is afoot and if the US bishops do not, as a body, stand up to defend the Holy Father in the next 24 hours, we shall be slipping towards schism,” the author Michael Sean Winters wrote.
“The enemies of Francis have declared war.”
Nicolas Seneze, the Rome correspondent for the French daily La Croix, echoed that there is “a clear desire to attack Francis,” said that “those who regard Francis as dangerous will stop at nothing.”
Given that clergy have accused Pope Francis of outright heresy, and provided evidence of the heresy, Seneze’s evaluation appears to be spot-on.
Bishop Vigano, 77, who was a papal nuncio in Washington between 2011 and 2016, said that Benedict XVI imposed canonical sanctions against McCarrick in the late 2000s.
McCarrick was forced to leave his seminary and live a life of penance after former Vatican ambassadors in Washington, now dead, reported him for “gravely immoral” behaviour with seminarians and priests.
Vigano claimed Francis asked him about McCarrick when he took office in June 2013, but that the pope ignored his warnings.
He said the pope “knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” adding that “he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end”.
The pope accepted the resignation of McCarrick, now 88, in July, making him just the second cardinal ever to lose his status.
Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., has said that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, told “the truth” in his explosive statement released to the press on Aug. 25.
The 11-page document contains specific allegations that senior bishops and cardinals have been aware of the allegations of sexual abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick for more than a decade. Archbishop Viganò also states that, in either 2009 or 2010, Pope Benedict XVI imposed sanctions on McCarrick “similar to those now imposed upon him by Pope Francis” and that McCarrick was forbidden from travelling and speaking in public.
In his statement, Viganò says that these were communicated to McCarrick in a stormy meeting at the nunciature in Washington D.C. by then-nuncio Pietro Sambi. Viganò directly cites Msgr. Lantheaume as having told him about the encounter, following his arrival in D.C to replace Sambi as nuncio in 2011.
During his visit to Ireland on Sunday the pope “begged for God’s forgiveness” for past clerical abuse scandals, which have badly damaged the image of the Church in the Catholic stronghold.
His trip was met with enthusiastic crowds but also protests, with about 5,000 abuse victims and supporters attending a “Stand for Truth” rally in the capital Dublin.
It was the first papal trip to Ireland since John Paul II spoke in front of 1.5 million people in 1979.
– Homosexuality tendancies –
On the plane back to Rome after the two-day trip, the pope also commented on homosexuality. He recommended that parents seek psychiatric help for children who show homosexual tendencies.
France’s Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa attacked those comments as “incomprehensible and indefensible”
The Vatican on Monday rolled back on the pope’s psychiatry idea, and withdrew the comment from its official verbatim record oh his trip.
The Catholic Church’s standing has been badly dented by the abuse scandals. Stronghold Ireland has largely shed its traditional Catholic mores, voting earlier this year to legalise abortion after approving same-sex marriage in 2015.
Multiple probes in Ireland have found Church leaders protected hundreds of predatory priests and former Irish president Mary McAleese revealed this month that the Vatican had sought to keep Church documents inaccessible to government investigators.
The abuse scandals in Ireland are part of a worldwide crisis for the Vatican.
A devastating report earlier this month accused more than 300 priests in the US state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.
The US based Survivors’ Network for those abused by priests (SNAP) said in a statement that if Vigano’s allegations are true “this situation provides a dramatic illustration of the gap between rhetoric and decisive action”.
“Pope Francis has the power, but apparently does not have the will, to effect necessary change,” the group added.
“The corruption and filth which have entered into the life of the Church must be purified at their roots,”
said Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke in response to a LifeSite request for comment on the release of Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s testimony.
The 11-page letter issued by the former papal representative in the United States released to LifeSiteNews and a few other outlets is filled with revelations of scandals within the hierarchy.
“The declarations made by a prelate of the authority of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò must be totally taken to heart by those responsible in the Church,” said Burke. “Each declaration must be subject to investigation, according to the Church’s time-tried procedural law.”
In addition to the main charges that Pope Francis knew of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s abuse and nevertheless lifted sanctions that Pope Benedict had secretly imposed on McCarrick, some of the other explosive declarations include:
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI, “notoriously favored promoting homosexuals into positions of responsibility.”
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the current Secretary of State and thought to be the top contender to replace Francis, “was also complicit in covering up the misdeeds of McCarrick.”
Cardinal Parolin ordered the reservation of the Diocese of San Diego for the notoriously left-wing Bishop Robert McElroy
Pope Francis warned Viganò as nuncio that he did not want bishops in the United States like Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput: “They must not be right-wing like the Archbishop of Philadelphia,” he quotes the Pope as telling him.
“After the truth of each declaration has been established, then the appropriate sanctions must be applied both for the healing of the horrible wounds inflicted upon the Church and her members, and for the reparation of the grave scandal caused,” says Cardinal Burke.
Cardinal Burke called on “all good Catholics” to “insist upon knowing the truth” and added that they “must pray and sacrifice for the Church at this tumultous time.”
A purification, he said, “Such purification can only take place with the full and uncompromised respect for the truth.”
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 31st, 2018