Religious freedom under attack in Australia

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Fortyeightvows
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Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:35 am

For centuries, the sacrament of reconciliation - known as confession - has been a venerated practice of the Catholic Church, requiring people to reveal their sins to a priest, who must keep the confession secret.

But the seal, or secrecy, of the confessional is under threat in Australia, following an inquiry which recommended that priests be forced to tell police about admissions of sexual abuse of children.

So far, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have adopted the proposal into law. Other states are expected to follow.
But the move has prompted a fierce backlash from the Catholic Church, with some priests warning that they would rather go to jail than break the confessional seal.
"Removing priest-penitent privilege from the law and requiring mandatory reporting of confessions will either have no effect on child safety or will actually make children less safe," Australia's Catholic Bishops said in a letter to Mr Turnbull.

Church officials said criminals will not confess if they know they will be reported to the police and so priests will not be able to urge them to turn themselves in.

A priest in Sydney, Father Michael Whelan, said he was willing to go to jail rather than break the confessional seal. "The state will be requiring us as Catholic priests to commit what we regard as the most serious crime," he told ABC News. "I'm not willing to do that…
https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/austr ... -australia

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Virgo
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Virgo » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:48 am

This creates a major problem. For Catholics, if they do not confess their sins to an ordained priest, they do not die in a "State of Grace", and are not admitted into heaven. They must die in communion with the Church meaning not in a state of mortal sin, having recently confessed, having received the bread and wine, etc.

This will frighten some Catholics into not confessing. According to their religion (of course I do not agree) their eternal souls may be in jeopordy because of that fact.

And to think people thought Rome fell in 410 CE.

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Fortyeightvows
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:55 am

Yes, the theological implications for both the lay devotee and the priests are serious. but another implication stated in the article is that these laws will discourage criminals from confessing to their priests, who would advise them to stop their evil behavior (and I would think, encourage them to confess to the secular authority) the priests may be the only people who the criminals would confess to and who they would hear the advice to stop doing evil and practice virtue.

All that aside,to me the bigger concern is the government interfering with the activities of religious specialists.

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Virgo » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:10 am

Oh wait, I hadn't actually read the article (sorry), and I assumed it was for all criminal behavior. It seems it is only for sexual abuse of children. In that case, I am not sure how I feel about this. Perhaps it is the right thing to do. Abusers should not be protected.

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Virgo » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:12 am

If it were a case of having to report all criminal behavior to authorities, I would say we were taking a step backwards. But in this case, perhaps it is a step forward.

Kevin...
Last edited by Virgo on Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:13 am

I'm not going to take sides here, but I will provide some context:
Key recommendations from the royal commission into child sexual abuse

The five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its final report on Friday.
The report runs over 17 volumes and includes 189 new recommendations. ...
:reading: https://www.smh.com.au/national/key-rec ... 05en6.html
A "royal commission" is the highest-level, most powerful form of legal enquiry we've got in Oz and this one shocked everyone by the extent of abuse it uncovered in such institutions as church-run orphanages and schools.
Catholic institutions did not come out of it looking at all good - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_ ... _Australia
... The Royal Commission established that some 4,444 claimants alleged incidents of child sexual abuse in 4,756 reported claims to Catholic Church authorities (some claimants made a claim of child sexual abuse against more than one Catholic Church authority) and at least 1,880 suspected abusers from 1980 to 2015. Most of those suspected of abuse were Catholic priests and religious brothers and 62 percent of the survivors who told the commission they were abused in religious institutions were abused in a Catholic facility. ...
:reading:

That "62%' is due partly to the fact that the Catholic church always had more schools here than the Protestants but still ... :thinking:

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:56 am

Psychologists and psychiatrists also have a code of patient confidentiality, but they are obliged to report to the police if they feel their patient is going to engage in behaviour that will harm themselves or others: eg if a patient expresses the will to suicide, or to murder.

And yet people still go to psychologists and psychiatrists and they still tell them about their motivation to act in a particular manner.

But somehow, it should be expected that Catholic priests do not want to involve themselves with turning in child abusers... ;)
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by amanitamusc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:29 am

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:56 am
Psychologists and psychiatrists also have a code of patient confidentiality, but they are obliged to report to the police if they feel their patient is going to engage in behaviour that will harm themselves or others: eg if a patient expresses the will to suicide, or to murder.

And yet people still go to psychologists and psychiatrists and they still tell them about their motivation to act in a particular manner.

But somehow, it would be expected that Catholic priests do not want to involve themselves with turning in child abusers... ;)
Good point!

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by shaunc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:40 am

Grigoris wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:56 am
Psychologists and psychiatrists also have a code of patient confidentiality, but they are obliged to report to the police if they feel their patient is going to engage in behaviour that will harm themselves or others: eg if a patient expresses the will to suicide, or murder
But are they also obligated to report if a patient confessed to something in their past.

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:42 am

shaunc wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:40 am
But are they also obligated to report if a patient confessed to something in their past.
Good question, I need to look that up.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by shaunc » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:42 am

How on earth will this law be enforced, what are they going to do, bug confessionals.

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:47 am

Australia is a very non-religious society, overall - I mean, there are plenty of religious people, but churches are not well-attended, and there are many less conspicuous appeals to religious sentiments in public life than is common in, say, the USA. In fact non-religious Australians are probably pretty cynical about religion generally, and the recent Royal Commission into sexual abuse could only have exacerbated that. So I think public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of compulsory disclosure, and I can understand the rationale. But at the same time, I think it is also a violation of the boundary between Church and state. Just as the State can't have religious institutions dictating laws, so too I think that if religious freedom means anything, then the Church's right to privileged communications have to be respected. Obviously, a vexed and delicate question, but that would be my view.
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Bristollad » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:43 pm

Perhaps a compromise would be that the seal of the confessional should be maintained but that the Church give guidance to priests that absolution should not be granted unless the person confessing such crimes revealed himself to the secular authorities as part of their penance. Perhaps this is already the case?

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Grigoris » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:11 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:47 am
Australia is a very non-religious society, overall - I mean, there are plenty of religious people, but churches are not well-attended, and there are many less conspicuous appeals to religious sentiments in public life than is common in, say, the USA. In fact non-religious Australians are probably pretty cynical about religion generally, and the recent Royal Commission into sexual abuse could only have exacerbated that. So I think public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of compulsory disclosure, and I can understand the rationale. But at the same time, I think it is also a violation of the boundary between Church and state. Just as the State can't have religious institutions dictating laws, so too I think that if religious freedom means anything, then the Church's right to privileged communications have to be respected. Obviously, a vexed and delicate question, but that would be my view.
Seperation of church and state entails that the church cannot interfere in the functioning of the state, not that the church is not subject to the rule of law.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Wayfarer
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:01 pm

I do agree with that, and I don’t believe churches ought to be able to flout laws.

Bristollad’s suggestion is excellent.
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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Quay » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:16 pm

The demands and obligations to God and Caesar are sometimes the same and many times different. Though as several have suggested it does not seem to be an insurmountable problem to reconcile the two except for the fact priests are quite reluctant to turn themselves or their brothers in for many civil crimes from financial fraud to child rape.
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There is no end to all the subjects one could study.
It is better to grasp straight away their very essence--
The unchanging fortress of the Dharmakaya."

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:43 pm

Quay wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:16 pm
The demands and obligations to God and Caesar are sometimes the same and many times different. Though as several have suggested it does not seem to be an insurmountable problem to reconcile the two except for the fact priests are quite reluctant to turn themselves or their brothers in for many civil crimes from financial fraud to child rape.
Read the OP. It's very specific: "But the seal, or secrecy, of the confessional is under threat in Australia, following an inquiry which recommended that priests be forced to tell police about admissions of sexual abuse of children."

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:49 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:47 am
Australia is a very non-religious society, overall - I mean, there are plenty of religious people, but churches are not well-attended...
And then there's the issue of multiculturalism, too. Religious freedom here has to recognise the right of atheists and Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc, as well as the Christians, e.g.
Greens move to scrap 'archaic' Lord's prayer in Senate sittings

Lee Rhiannon says statement that opens parliament should include ‘people of all beliefs and faiths’
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... SApp_Other

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by Quay » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:36 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:43 pm
Quay wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:16 pm
The demands and obligations to God and Caesar are sometimes the same and many times different. Though as several have suggested it does not seem to be an insurmountable problem to reconcile the two except for the fact priests are quite reluctant to turn themselves or their brothers in for many civil crimes from financial fraud to child rape.
Read the OP. It's very specific: "But the seal, or secrecy, of the confessional is under threat in Australia, following an inquiry which recommended that priests be forced to tell police about admissions of sexual abuse of children."

:coffee:
Kim
No need to be condescending. Or call for it. I did read it and commented on it.

I also probably know more about the tension between canon law and civil law than most people here. Can you say you once held lay Catholic orders? Or read Latin well enough to read canon law?

This another version of the very long-standing problem between what was used to be called the Church Militant and civil authority especially when civil authority became separated from the church in Europe. There were many accommodations made before over the ages for political and social reasons and one can be made now with the issuance of a directive or even a bull from the appropriate apostolic office in the Vatican. The problem however is that so many priests are guilty of the crimes they are being considered to require to report and that is where the real tension lies, not in a civil-church law conflict. Who wants to turn themselves in?

The church can complain a long while (and has before) about infringement of its unique religious liberties but the actual issue here is one of clerical guilt and the strong desire to continue to cover it up instead of deal with it openly.
"Knowledge is as infinite as the stars in the sky;
There is no end to all the subjects one could study.
It is better to grasp straight away their very essence--
The unchanging fortress of the Dharmakaya."

– Longchenpa.

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Re: Religious freedom under attack in Australia

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:20 am

I've got a piece of paper that says I'm a minister. Whatever I hear by way of confession, which I do not feel is a necessary sacrament, for good or for evil, I do not feel obliged to notify the "authorities." Especially when the "authorities" here are known to kill suspects on sight.

Sorry about that.

Oh, I'm in the USA
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