Confession unaffected by new Hong Kong security law


Hong Kong’s Catholic diocese says confession will remain confidential despite the city’s upcoming national security law change.

The proposed legislation the diocese is referring to is Article 23, a locally developed national security bill that Hong Kong is fast-tracking into law.

It follows the one Beijing imposed in 2020 after quashing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The bill is expected to be put to a legislature vote within days.

About the new law

The new law proposes a maximum jail term of 14 years for anyone who knows someone will commit treason but fails to report it to the police. In a three-sentence statement published on its website, the Diocese of Hong Kong says citizens “have an obligation to ensure national security”.

However, according to the Diocese, this does not apply to Catholics who confess their sins.

The diocese also says that fears such a law could force Catholic priests to divulge information they heard in Confession to authorities are unnecessary.

Confessions to priests will remain confidential the diocesan office confirms.

Voiced concerns

UK-based activist group Hong Kong Watch has said this “directly threatens religious freedom” because it could compromise the confidentiality of confession.

The group thought it would force priests to reveal what was said in the confessional.

Hong Kong authorities defended the law’s proposed criminal offence – which used to be called “misprision of treason”.

Officials say it has long existed in the city and other common law countries. It does not have “anything to do with freedom of religion”.

Responding to a lawmaker’s question last week, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam said it would be “very difficult to create exceptions” for people like clergy and social workers regarding the offence.


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News category: World.

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