Ireland calls for the arrest of priests who hide crimes disclosed in the confession box

Ireland stepped up its battle with the Roman Catholic Church over child abuse Sunday, with Justice Minister Alan Shatter vowing to pass a law requiring priests to report suspicions of child abuse, even if they learn about them in confession.

The Catholic Church regards information learned in confession as completely confidential. But under the law proposed by Shatter, priests could be prosecuted for failing to tell the police about crimes disclosed in the confession box.

Shatter said in a statement through a spokesman last week that priests’ failure to report what they learn in confession “has led sexual predators into believing that they have impunity and facilitated pedophiles preying on children and destroying their lives.”

The minister’s comment to a local radio station Sunday comes after the Vatican rejected Irish accusations that church leaders sought to cover up extensive abuse of young people by priests in Ireland…

“In a spirit of humility, the Holy See, while rejecting unfounded accusations, welcomes all objective and helpful observations and suggestions to combat with determination the appalling crime of sexual abuse of minors,” the statement says…

Released July 13, the 421-page report into the handling of abuses in the diocese of Cloyne demolished claims by the Catholic Church in Ireland that policies it put in place in 1996 had enabled it to get a handle on the problem.

It also accused Bishop John Magee, who was responsible for policing abuse in his diocese, of not backing the policies himself and failing to take action against abusers.

Time is long past for churches to be removed as a law unto themselves, superseding the law of sovereign nations. And, yes, that includes the question of paying taxes like any other corporate body.

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