Makes no practical difference either way. Priests won't tell - end of.
The only thing at stake here is the government's agenda of appearing to subdue the CC.
It's a corruption of our democratic system to make laws that are unenforceable or to use the law as an ideological battering ram.
What is at issue here is not the legal position (given that its highly unlikely an offender would confide in a priest if the offender knew that the priest was obliged to report them) but the fact that the church hierarchy has sought to assert the dominance of Canon Law yet again which gives lie to their claims that child safety is of utmost importance to them.
On a more sinister level, the position of the hierarchy suggests that the offence of child abuse is in some way pardonable in the eyes of an "institution", which may well influence the moral attitude of the offender in their commission of the crime.
This is what the Ombudsman for Children had to say about sacerdotal privilege in relation to this bill:
While it is for the Attorney General to advise on the constitutionality of any proposed legislation, this Office does not believe that it would be unconstitutional for the legislation to be extended to the confessional and this Office recommends that it be so extended. In any event, it should be clarified that sacerdotal privilege in respect of communications outside the confessional cannot give rise to a reasonable excuse.
In exactly the same way that you are obliged to report knowledge of the crimes covered by the act.
The question that can be asked of you is this: why should priests be exempt from the act?
That is a reasonable question.
And the answer to this lies in how confessions are undertaken.
The penitent and the priest are separated in the confessional.
The priest and the penitent don't see each other.
The penitent is not required to provide proof of the statements he/she makes during the confessional.
The penitent is not required to name/disclose details of the crime/sins committed during the confessional.
In essence the penitent utters the crime/sin committed and asks the priest to dispense absolution.
Try going to the Gardai with that paucity of data and ask them to investigate the matter.
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