BARRY O’Farrell, despite his Catholic background, has no real understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). One wonders when he last resorted to its use.
When a penitent comes before a priest in the Confessional, he/she is not talking to the priest but directly to God. It is God who absolves the sin of a true penitent through the words of the priest. The priest passes on the faults of the penitent to God and leaves the forgiveness to the Almighty.
The purpose of the Sacrament is to heal the penitent and through the advice of the Confessor enable him/her to attempt to amend his/her life.
Should the seal of the Confessional ever fall into doubt through the legislation of an ignorant and bigoted administration, then such people as paedophiles, unfaithful spouses, murderers, sadists, corrupt officials, etc, would never approach the Sacrament for healing, knowing that they might be revealed, and, therefore, an avenue for rehabilitation would be closed.
There are means the priest can use within the context of the Confession.
One would be to withhold absolution until the penitent had been to the police.
Another would be the imposition of a penance requiring the penitent to report to the police.
Another would be to advise the penitent to report to the police while giving absolution. But should there be a return to the same sin, the Confessor would need to look at the alternatives.
However, no government will ever force me to break the seal of the confessional!
Father Laurie Bent, Mummell via Goulburn.