(USNewsMag.com) – Two state-sponsored measures would abolish the Catholic Church’s access to the right of private confession, which protects priests’ ability to withhold confessional materials. Catholics worry that religious freedom safeguards might erode.
HB 74 by Representative Eric Morrison (D-DE) and Senate Bill 16 by Senator Richard Sears (D-VT) were written to prevent child abuse. The bill would bar clergy from claiming privileged confessions about child neglect or abuse.
A Catholic in confession admits their sins privately to their priest for forgiveness. Confession is one of the church’s sacraments, and disclosing knowledge by a priest is punished by excommunication.
Since confession is neither counseling, dialogue, nor group therapy, Catholics are targeted for their sacred beliefs. The priest represents Christ in confession. Priests would be imprisoned before revealing a congregant’s sins, which would persecute the Catholic church.
Dominican Friar Father Aquinas Guilbeau said, according to Catholic doctrine, this is a personal devotional act between God and the individual.
After missing a March 17 committee deadline, Sears stated that his measure would die this year in Vermont but not next year.
Morrison argued that his legislation was for the safety of children. All Delaware citizens should be aware of any reports of neglect and abuse.
Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Conscience Project director, claimed these measures would not prevent misuse. She hasn’t seen evidence at all that private confessions have hindered child or domestic abuse prosecutions.
Canon lawyer Ed Condon predicted the proposals would fail. He stated these measures fail as they are unenforceable. To ensure the priest reports abuse, a police officer would have to enter the confessional, which they are not allowed to do.
CatholicVote president Brian Burch claimed that the purpose is to destroy the Catholic Church, to decrease its position in society, and to undercut its attempts to fulfill the requirements of its people in support of a severe secular makeover of the church’s culture.
Guilbeau stated Catholic priests have often shown they would sooner go to prison than break the right of private confession.
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