The “absolute confidentiality” afforded to disclosures made under the seal of confession will be a matter for debate in the General Synod this month.
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said last week that he had “every sympathy” with the view, expressed by a survivor who reported abuse to the Cahill Inquiry…, that disclosures that gave rise to safeguarding concerns should not be treated as confidential.
Dr Sentamu told The Times: “If somebody tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn’t seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you really hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn’t talk about it?
“When a child reports abuse, you have an obligation – a duty – to take the matter to the police. If the person who has done it comes and tells you ‘I’ve abused someone, but I’m in a confessional now,’ it needs teasing out. I have listened to those who have been abused, and what I’ve heard leads me to ask a question: ‘Are we really serious about what Jesus said about children or not?'”