Priests in Ireland are now legally obliged to break the Confessional Seal and report the sexual abuse of children, reports The Tablet.
The change was confirmed by Ireland’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter who said the laws were intended to encourage every individual to report abuse, and it would apply to priests in the confessional.
Shatter said yesterday the issue had become a “media obsession” and the new law would not protect priests from prosecution for failing to pass on information that arises during Confession.
The Irish Times however reports that some legal observers said the planned law contained a section that may exempt priests from prosecution.
The proposed legislation states that any offences for withholding information do not remove “any rule of law or other enactment entitling a person to refuse to disclose information”.
However in a statement late last night the Department of Justice said the Bill did not propose any change in regard to sacerdotal privilege, which has been relied on in cases dealing with civil matters.
“The extent to which the privilege can be relied on in a criminal case is unclear,” the statement added.
News category: World.