This is horrible and exactly proof of why I refuse to participate, even on just holidays with family, with the church ever again. Basically, this ruling came down in a case where a 14-year-old girl told a priest that she was being sexually abused by a long-time parishioner and the priest did absolutely nothing. The priest said he couldn’t break the seal of confession, and apparently the state agrees.
This is horrible for many, many reasons but most of all because children already have so many obstacles to disclosing. It often takes an almost insurmountable amount of courage to do it in the first place and part of that is because children who are abused have so few people they feel they can trust. I’m sure we all remember hearing in school to report to a “trusted authority, a parent, a teacher, a priest or pastor, or the police” if we were being abused. How many of us who were abused ever approached any of those people? Now think if you did pluck up the courage and that “trusted adult” did absolutely NOTHING about it. How many people would ever have tried again with another adult? Someone even farther down their “trusted adult” list? A very small few.
The other thing that is horrible to consider is how much shame the church already bakes into being “pure” and virginal. This is already damaging for children who experience sexual abuse, because their self-worth is further degraded and the feeling that they are “bad” or “deserve” the abuse is just reinforced. I remember praying every single night for forgiveness for what was happening to me. That makes me so angry now for my child self. That on top of everything, I truly, truly believed myself to desperately need forgiveness and redemption for something I had zero power over.
The church is just awful and disgusting and I am cynical enough to believe that they pursued this case in part to protect their own priests - how many priests who are abusers themselves have probably confessed to one another? This is just another tool in their arsenal to hide and protect abusers. I’m also cynical enough to believe that the original priest in question probably gave that girl some form of penance for some bullshit reason of something she did to bring on the abuse. I mean, clearly he didn’t give a shit about her being harmed and abused. Because if you did, you wouldn’t fucking do jack shit about it. I think it is more than possible to maintain the secret of confession and still report abuse. Simply report the abuse and then only answer questions that relate to that and that only. How hard is that? But we privilege patriarchal religion so far above all else, including the well-being of children. And the people who harp so much on how much they love all “precious” life and how the life of innocent children should be protected at all costs don’t really think much of that in practice. The people who pretend they are SO MORAL are fucking morally bankrupt.