Priests are willing to be jailed rather than break the sanctity of the confessional, according to several interviewed in a video released by Catholic News Service this week. The defiance is in response to SB 360, the bill in the California Legislature that would force priests to report any child abuse confessed by penitents.
“I know no priest who would choose to violate his conscience toward God,” said Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, Canon Law Professor at St. Patrick’s Seminary. “To violate that trust between a penitent and God himself is to so violate a person’s conscience that there are few acts more violative of conscience.”
The CCC is interested in hearing how your priest views SB 360, and conversely, thoughts from clergy on the topic in parishes. Head over to our Facebook page to comment and let us know what you are hearing about this bill.
As amended, SB 360 (Hill, D-Mateo), would remove the right to privacy between a penitent and confessor during the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other spiritual counseling for priests and employees of the Church. Originally, the “penitential exemption” would have been removed for every Catholic. SB 360 also leaves intact the attorney-client privilege.
In Catholic teaching, the confessional is sacrosanct and Canon law is very clear that any priest who violates the seal of confession is automatically excommunicated.
The bill is currently in the Assembly but has yet to be assigned to a committee. Click here to quickly send a letter to your lawmaker telling them to stop this bill now.
“People should feel at absolute liberty within the context of Sacramental confession to know that they should be free to reveal the deepest, sometimes darkest aspects of our conscience,” said Fr. Ronald T. Kunkel, a theology professor at Mundelein Seminary.