July 25, 2011

The group that represents Ireland's Catholic priests says the secrecy of Confession must be protected, despite government indications that Confessions would not be exempt from rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse.

"The point is, if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody.

There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions," said Irish Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Father P.J. Madden, spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests, insisted the sacramental seal of Confession is "above and beyond all else" and should not be broken even if a penitent confesses to a crime.

Madden said he would strongly urge and appeal to the penitent to confess a crime to the police and have the civil aspect dealt with, but that he did not approve of the idea of reporting what was said.

"If I'm breaking the law then somebody has to find a way to address that for me . . . but in my own right as a priest what I understand is the seal of Confession is above and beyond all else," he said.