A law has been proposed in Maryland that would not allow a priest to keep the seal of the confessional. Cardinal McCarrick of Washington has said, if it passes, he will instruct his priests serving in Maryland to ignore it.
Keeping children safe is one thing, but destroying a central tenet of the Catholic faith that goes back over a thousand years is another. And they’re not opposed to one another. If someone goes to a priest to confess, he obviously wants absolution. The priest can withhold that absolution unless the person turns himself in. There are other steps a priest can take as well without breaking the seal.
Some would say that keeping kids safe supersede that. Okay, then what about attorney-client privilege and doctor-patient privilege? Will we get rid of those too? And what about the next important “safety issue”? What if another country passes a law requiring priests to report anyone harboring subversive thoughts against the government?
This isn’t the first such law proposed that would destroy the confessional seal. I know of at least one in Kentucky and another in New Hampshire. It probably won’t be the last. Hopefully, common sense will prevail and people will realize that the confessional didn’t harbor pedophiles, but bishops and priests and laypeople who knew about the crimes apart from the sacrament of penance.
This is just another example of “do something, anything” politics where a politician has to justify himself to his constituents so he files legislation that makes it look like he’s responding to a crisis even when he may not have any hope of making a difference. Like the pols who wanted more gun laws after Columbine, even though we know the killers broke something like 15 laws already. Would another law have been one too many?