Why priests can’t break the seal of confession, despite UK lawyers’ recommendation


November 27, 2017

By Mary Rezac

Lawyers in the United Kingdom have recommended that mandatory reporting laws apply to priests in the confessional, in order to curb incidents of child sexual abuse.

The recommendation came during an investigation of Benedictine abbeys and their associated schools, after numerous victims came forward alleging clergy at the schools had committed acts of child sexual abuse.

Richard Scorer, a representative with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), said during a hearing that mandatory reporting laws should apply even to information bound by the seal of confession.

“A mandatory reporting law would have changed their behaviour,” Scorer said, according to The Guardian. “At Downside Abbey, abuse was discovered but not reported, and abusers were left to free to abuse again and great harm was done to victims.”

“The Catholic Church purports to be a moral beacon for others around it yet these clerical sex abuse cases profoundly undermine it … Why has the temptation to cover up abuse been particularly acute in organisations forming part of the Roman Catholic church?”

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