Priest-Penitent Privilege?

That isn’t “law” in the legal sense though is it? Those are just the internal rules of the organisation. No more binding than the “laws” of cricket.

People need to unburden themselves and may well in future refrain if they believe the confessor will gab out the fact the whole family plays mixed doctors and nurses every night.

I don’t. The U.S. Constitution has been changed any number of times from the original, and I could well see the liberals — not the left, but the hysterics — deciding to void all protection for religion.

Not that it would make any difference to the Roman Catholic Church what Americans think.

How are laws an organization lives by any less laws than those imposed by the state ?
And with both it is entirely up to the individual which to obey.

I don’t recall anyone being jailed because they went against canon “law”, nor being put on probation because you don’t bowl with a straight arm.

OK, why should a priest have special privilege not to disclose such things when other people that may help you unburden, do not?

In a sense, yes. But the explanation was responsively relevant to the statement, “Part of a valid sacrament of Confession is performing the penance that the priest gives to you.”

In other words, the Catholic Church determines what it considers a “valid sacrament,” in the same sense that the various cricket rules organizations have determined that six runs are scored in cricket if the ball crosses the perimeter without bouncing. Neither rests on an action by Congress or a state legislature; both are binding on their own membership.

The difference here is that “law in the legal sense,” recognizes and applies aspects of the Catholic law in secular contexts. The “law in the legal sense” doesn’t care about penance either, and is broader than the Catholic application. A Catholic confession and absolution cannot be conferred on an unbaptized person, but the secular law draws no such distinction; a Jewish person seeking advice from his rabbi can claim the legal protections of the privilege even though there is no analogous halakhic principle.

Because we as a society regard religion as deserving of special status and protection. Again, in this sense, “priest” does not mean “ordained minister in Christian Holy Orders,” but more generally refers to a person whose religious role is spiritual or religious counsel.

Unfortunately so, I don’t think that should be the case.

You never had a chat with the Holy Office c. 1700, did you ?

Because this is a formalized system, and people aren’t going to use it if they are going to be snitched upon. I do not admire Confession, and until the present Pope excommunicated the Italian/Sicilian Mafias a few years ago — as his feebler predecessors had not — it did not seem to stop the wretched brutes from continuing bad things.

And I don’t know that any of this is much of a privilege: I’ve read of priests being sick and bothered at the relentless catalogue of ( petty ) crime from our ordinary fellows.

Back in pre-internet days I would hazard a guess some people got a kick out of confessing utterly banal and revolting details of their sex-lives to a celibate.

Sure. Indeed, you can make the case that by privileging religion over more secular modes of counsel and guidance, we as a society are actually making a choice: we’re not establishing a particular religion, but we’re establishing a preference for religion (of whatever stripe) over non-religion.

But unfortunately for holders of this view, it’s so entrenched that changing it in any substantial way won’t happen any time soon, in my opinion.

It strengthens the country. Every truly religious person is going to obey their religion and not the state if they are in conflict. So by trying to minimize the conflict between the obligations of religion and the state, the government has more people who are loyal to it.

That seems a little off. Like it should have been a hearsay issue, instead. At least wrt the priest’s putative testimony.

I’m also unclear on the Church’s stance on whether the seal of the confessional should prevent a victim’s allegation from triggering mandatory reporting.

In that context, the priest’s testimony would not be hearsay as it is not offered “for the truth of the matter asserted.”

IOW, it matters not whether the 14 year old’s allegation of abuse was true (in the context of that case) but what the priest did by failing/not failing to report it.

Not hearsay.

I know that this can be a complicated concept, but here’s part of a post I wrote some time back that might be helpful:

The Church’s stance is consistent with secular law: it does.

And we have no particular reason to want to give criminals the opportunity to “unburden themselves” risk-free.

It’s not really up to ‘us’.
And most ordinary people aren’t ipso facto criminals — whose crimes against the state are simply so far undiscovered — outside the great People’s Republic regimes.
Neither outside such idyllically idealist republics is the profession of secret informer honoured and admired.

Speak for yourself.

A person finds out about horrific, ongoing child abuse.

That person reports it to the police.

Is that person to be commended or admired?

That person does not report it to the police.

Is that person to be commended or admired?

If I discovered a paedophile ring I would openly, not secretly, tell the police. Same with a dog-fighting ring. But these would have to be ongoing and future. Anything previous is not my concern.

Similarly with murdering: a few hours ago I discovered the case of the Green River Killer, a man who may have killed over 90 women and brutalized the bodies. To suggest one should not help capture such as he would be absurd. Then again I would not grant him my confidence, let alone my absolution; so it’s rather moot.

This is not a perfect world.

Anything that comes under the label of utmost shame — not presently hurting others physically or emotionally
— that should embarrass the perp for eternity will not be revealed by me, particularly if revealed in confidence; like embezzlement, bestiality, being republican, bed-wetting or having shot a man in Reno in the past.

This is not my business, and unlike the Catholic Church I have no interest in saving the souls of the damned.

Indeed not, I’m pretty much in line with where you would draw the boundary as I think it is where any reasonable person would draw it.

My main problem has always been, and remains, any suggestion that priests or other religious figures get some special allowance to keep quiet in all circumstances.