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Thread: Catholic Church, State clash over 'confessing' of crimes

  1. #1

    Catholic Church, State clash over 'confessing' of crimes

    The Roman Catholic Church and the State of Jamaica could be on a collision course over the laws regarding reporting suspected incidents of child abuse.

    Under the law, everyone is mandated to report cases of child abuse, even if the information is delivered in a confessional booth.

    But the rules of the Roman Catholic Church say that is a no-no.

    Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Kenneth Richards, said that the seal of confession supersedes the law. He said under this seal, priests are bound to keep information they receive during a confession private, even under threat of their own death or that of others.

    Roman Catholic canon considers the sacramental seal unbreakable, making it forbidden for a person who hears confessions-given in words or other means-to betray in any way a penitent. This is so even if the confessor admits to committing criminal acts involving a child or any other person.

    Canon 983.1 of the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism states, ’It is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.’

    A priest, therefore, cannot break the seal to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to aid the course of justice (like reporting a crime), or to avert a public calamity. He cannot be compelled by law to disclose a person’s confession or be bound by any oath he takes, for example, as a witness in a court trial.

    A priest faces excommunication if he, breaks this seal.

    Monsignor Richards, therefore, admitted that if the information is revealed to him during confession, there is nothing he can do.

    He, however, said he could deny the individual absolution and ask him or her to see him in another context, such as counselling. In that situation, the seal of confession no longer binds him.

    ’And it is then I can act,’ he said.

    But the law is not dictated to by the Church.

    Pastors, doctors, lawyers, teachers and even neighbours could go to prison or face hefty fines if they fail to report incidents of child abuse to the relevant authorities.

    Children’s registrar, Carla Francis-Edie, reiterated that though persons associated with some professions, including pastors and doctors, are compelled to keep certain information private, they are still obligated by law to pass on information that might endanger the life or well-being of a minor.

    According to Francis-Edie, the law supersedes the confidentiality agreements under which doctors and religious leaders operate.

    She said under Section 16 (1) of the Child Care and Protection Act they could be imprisoned for six months, or face a fine of up to J$500,000 if they fail to come forward with this information.

    This appears to be less of a problem for other Christian denominations.

    General Secretary for the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), Gary Harriott, said more churches are becoming aware of what is required under the law in terms of information received during counselling sessions.

    He said although the JCC does not have a policy, which speaks directly to the matter, he is aware that pastors, as well as church members and staff, are being sensitised to what the law requires and are being encouraged to follow the law.

    ’I know that there are situations where when that comes to the attention of clergy, the necessary action is taken in terms of reporting the matter to the authorities.’

    He said in certain counselling settings, a client would be informed that it is a relationship of confidentiality, but there are certain situations in which confidentiality will not be guaranteed, and child abuse is one such case.

    Harriott said the Church has also tried to relay this message to members of the congregation.

    ’So whether you’re a pastor, Sunday school teacher, whomever, even if you just suspect that the child is being abused, you have an obligation to report it,’ he said.

    Over the years, the policies governing some professions have also been amended to make provisions for the disclosure of information of a criminal nature that may be confessed in a confidential setting.

    Dr Wendel Abel, head of psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, Mona, said everything that is said to a therapist during a counselling session must be kept confidential, except if the person expresses an intent to kill someone.

    He said under the Tarasoff Rule, the counsellor has a duty to report this information to the authorities.

    Dr Abel said in relation to child abuse cases, the law has also been amended to give the therapist permission to disclose this information.

    -Jamaica Gleaner
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  2. #2
    Registered User marabunta is offline
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    The Pope is the Senior Chaplain for the White Ruling Class........

    ......there will be no "clash" in this matter:

    Jamaica WILL STAND DOWN and roll with the punches!

  3. #3
    Banned bouyon king is offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    deya pon de gullyside
    we are not most a preist can do is encourage de ppl 2 turn dem selves in. why should we start breakin de rules now

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