I was reminded today of the Hitchcock movie I Confess in which a murderer confesses his crime to a priest (Montgomery Clift) who keeps it secret even when he himself becomes a suspect in the police investigation.
What made me think of it was that I'd seen two stories today:
- Vatican official urges confidentiality by confessors on sex abuse sins ....
A priest who confesses sexual abuse in the sacrament of penance should be absolved and should generally not be encouraged by the confessor to disclose his acts publicly or to his superiors, a Vatican official said. Likewise, the confessor should not make the contents of such a confession public, said Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court that handles issues related to the sacrament of penance.
And - Monsignor 'would not report paedophile to gardai' ...
AN expert in canon law ... Monsignor Maurice Dooley ... was asked what action he would take if a paedophile priest approached him now to confide his crimes. "I would not tell anyone," he said. "That is his responsibility. I am considering only my responsibility. My responsibility is to maintain the confidentiality of information which I had been given under the contract of confidentiality. There must be somebody else aware of what he is up to, and he could be stopped. It is not my function. I would tell (the priest) to stop abusing children," he added. "But I am not going to go to the police or social services in order to betray the trust he has put in me"
The movie tells a so very different story than the ones in the headlines. Montgomery Clift's character knew from the confession given that the murderer had not meant to kill the victim and so was most likely not a serial killer soon off to perpetrate his next murder, and the priest did not profit from keeping the killer's secret but in fact put himself in danger of arrest.
But in these news stories I see instead pedophile priests and their confessors using the system in a way to benefit themselves to the detriment of present and future victims. They bring up the words responsibility and trust but they apply their use only among themselves, not with the little ones.