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The sacrament of confession and child sexual abuse: reported practise of Tasmanian Anglican clergy navigating the confidentiality dilemma

Guerzoni, MA 2017 , 'The sacrament of confession and child sexual abuse: reported practise of Tasmanian Anglican clergy navigating the confidentiality dilemma' , Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, vol. 30, no. 3 , pp. 258-280 , doi: 10.1558/jasr.35021.

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Abstract

The sacrament of confession is criticised for impeding clerical reporting of information about child sexual abuse to authorities. The sacrament of confession is found within Catholicism and Anglicanism and imposes a ‘seal’ on priests, forbidding them from ever revealing details of the sins confessed to them. This creates a moral dilemma in cases of abuse: should the priest obey canon or civil law? There have been recent efforts in Australian Anglicanism to address this dilemma via canonical reform in 2014 and 2017. In light of these changes, this article examines the perspectives of Anglican clergy in the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania towards the confessional seal. Findings reveal that most clergy would not obey canon law and ecclesiastical instructions about maintaining the confessional seal on the grounds that this requirement contravenes their theological and moral principles. The clergy also describe their approaches to responding to information of harm revealed both in confessional and pastoral encounters,demonstrating a desire to act in ways that assist all parties involved.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Guerzoni, MA
Keywords: child sexual abuse, confessional, Anglican church, clergy, confidentiality
Journal or Publication Title: Journal for the Academic Study of Religion
Publisher: Equinox Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 2047-704X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1558/jasr.35021
Copyright Information:

© Equinox Publishing Ltd

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