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The Seal That Cannot Be Broken
Jul 26 2011

There are politicians in Australia and Ireland calling for priests to be forced by law to break the confessional seal. This is in response to the shocking and terrible crimes of child abuse and some cover-ups of it within the Church.

While it is right and proper that anyone guilty of these crimes against man and God should face justice and receive the punishment they deserve it is not right to try and enforce the breaking of the confessional seal.

The sanctity of the confessional is a vow between a priest and God, which for no reason, no matter how vile, cannot be broken. Since the beginning of the Church under many different empires and ideologies priests have kept this sacred vow some even giving their lives for it. Fascism, communism, dictatorships, secular and non - Catholic groups have been unable to force or persuade priests and the Church to break this vow and if politicians today think they can do it then truly they do not know Catholicism and its history which has many a brave priest holding firm to their promise to God. This vow before God is greater than the human vows doctors take in refusing to make medical matters such as HIV status of patients available to others or lawyers refusing to make known their clients admissions to crimes.

For me the sadness is that there is a silence from many Catholics on this matter. Some even believe that the politicians are right. This shows there are those who do not know their faith or some who do not care about the sacred truths of their faith. It is not surprising with so few Catholics going to the sacrament of reconciliation that there is not a great outcry against these politicians. People should see this for what it is, an attack on the faith, and should stand up and defend the Holy Catholic faith. That does not mean ignoring the offenses against the young committed or the at times inadequate responses. Surely we should expect and demand that the Church protects the young and reports anyone guilty of such abhorrent sins. We also should expect the Church to keep its sacred vows to God including the seal of confession. If the Church accepted what these politicians are calling for who would go to confession? Who would trust a priest with their most personal matters? If the confessional seal could be broken for this over time the governments could demand more and more sins should be reported. Authoritarian regimes could use it to spy on and control the people.

Our faith would be weakened as who would truly confess their sins and in not doing so people would hold onto sin and the problems that come with it. Part of our relationship with God is to open our hearts and recognize our sins and weaknesses asking for His forgiveness and the grace to overcome our weaknesses. Because of our humanity it is often not possible to see the answers to our weaknesses by ourselves and so God through the priest gives the grace, advice and encouragement we need in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation. The divine grace received in a true confession is grace that forgives, heals, comforts and strengthens. It is also a grace that when fully accepted would lead a person to admit to the serious crimes they have done and face the consequences for them. What people also need to realise is that a priest can, and most likely would, withhold absolution in the case of a heinous crime until the person gives themselves up to the appropriate authorities. 

Confession of sins is a pillar of the Catholic faith and all Catholics should stand up and defend this holy gift from God.

No Catholic should in any way support those who call for the breaking of the confessional seal as in doing so they support those who seek to weaken the faith. While the arguments for doing so may seem justified they are not. As Catholics we must put what is holy and sacred before what is the will of man even when man’s will seems to be the answer to a problem.

Remember too that the Pope and the hierarchy of the Church are working hard to ensure these things do not happen again. Often the Church is presented as doing little or nothing or as being full of people trying to protect evil doers. This of course is not the truth as anyone who would take the time to read the guidelines for dealing with these matters would see. Yes there have been serious mistakes made but they were made by individuals not the Church. Listening to the media it would seem the Church is an evil empire and not the Holy Church that it truly is. We should consider who would want people to think this way and why and of course the prince of deceit springs to mind.

Let us stand up and be counted. Let us cry out for true justice and let us say firmly to the politicians, governments and the world that NEVER will we accept the confessional seal be broken.

May God bless you all,

Alan Ames

Alan Ames Ministry

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