The French government on Thursday summoned for explanation a top archbishop who said priests should not go to the police after hearing about child sexual abuse during confession.
Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort made the remark after a government inquiry lifted the lid on “massive” sexual assault in the French Catholic Church, estimating 216,000 victims over 70 years in systemic abuse covered up by a “veil of secrecy.”
The commission recommended a series of measures to protect minors from predatory clergy, which included priests informing prosecutors of any child abuse they hear mentioned during the act of confession, a sacrament traditionally bound by strict secrecy.
“We need to find another way of doing this,” Moulins-Beaufort, head of the Bishops’ Conference of France (CEF), told France Info radio on Wednesday.
The secrecy of confession “is above the laws of the Republic. It creates a free space for speaking before God,” he said.
His words were in line with new Vatican guidelines, released last year on handling clerical child abuse cases, which state that any crime discovered during confession is subject to “the strictest bond of the sacramental seal.”
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Source: Times of Malta