Vatican backs Catholic Church in Australia over Seal of Confession

The Vatican has told Church leaders in Australia that the Seal of Confession can never be violated.

The comments followed upon the August 2018 response of the Australian Catholic Bishops to Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In its final report, the Commission recommended that the Australian Bishops request that the Vatican consider introducing voluntary celibacy for clergy and end the Seal of Confession for cases of abuse, as well as requiring that abusers confess to the police before sacramental absolution can be given.

In its comments, the Vatican reaffirmed that “a confessor is prohibited completely from using knowledge acquired from Confession to the detriment of the penitent even when any danger of revelation is excluded.”

“However, even if the priest is bound to scrupulously uphold the seal of the confessional, he certainly may, and indeed in certain cases should, encourage a victim to seek help outside the confessional or, when appropriate, to report an instance of abuse to the authorities,” the document said.