Proposed legislation in Ireland that would make it a crime not to report child abuse does not cover “sacerdotal privilege”, a right conferred upon clergymen in 1945 which allows them to keep private any “confidential communication whatever made to him as a priest.” This exception was noted in a briefing paper prepared by the Oireachtas library service.
Emily Logan, The Children’s Ombudsman, is asking that the ‘Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons Bill’ be updated to remove sacerdotal privilege and allow communication with a priest made both in and outside of the confessional subject to the law. “It should be clarified,” she stated to The Journal.ie, ”that sacerdotal privilege in respect of communications outside the confessional cannot give rise to a reasonable excuse.”
Last year, Catholic bishops in Ireland argued against any changes to the law, saying that a requirement to disclose information given in confession would be a “serious offense” to parishioners.
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