Author Topic: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal  (Read 906 times)

Offline LausTibiChriste

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2020, 03:25:11 PM »
Better yet, what should the priest do if Mr Crane say in the confessional that he's going to violently rape and murder her? 
Most child molesters, for example, see themselves as showing love and affection to children.

Never thought I'd see the day (((Jayne))) excuses the behaviour of child molesterors.


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Offline LausTibiChriste

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2020, 03:25:41 PM »
Say we have a situation. Mr. Crane is a 54 year old, single male parishioner who begins to establish a relationship with a 13 year old girl, Emily, through the local Catholic Church they both attend. Mr. Crane is heavily involved in the Church community and helps out quite a bit. At first this relationship is a mentorship, but it eventually devolves into sexting and sexually suggestive texts, and then devolves into continuous sexual molestation.

Both Mr. Crane and Emily confess to the Priest. The Priest, in an attempt to not break the seal, decides to tell the parents that he's noticed that Mr. Crane and Emily have had a very close relationship, and that the parents should take a look into it.

Does this disclosure break the seal? Does anyone have any canon law citation about this?

Ask the priest, Mr. Crane.
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2020, 04:49:18 PM »
Is there general confusion around the idea the people's ability for self-deception means that they are capable of justifying to themselves even the most evil of actions?  Or is it just a couple of (deliberately?) obtuse forum members who cannot understand it? Anyone who has encountered the talking points of abortion supporters (which is presumably all of us) must be aware of this facet of human nature.

Describing the rationalizations that people make for themselves does not mean that one accepts them as legitimate excuses.  I can think of few things more obvious than the fact that there is no legitimate excuse for sexually molesting a child.  It is intellectually dishonest to take my words out of context to pretend that I think otherwise.  Even LTC is not stupid enough to really think I consider it acceptable to sexually molest a child.

For the record, molesting children is evil and sickening. 
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Offline Elizabeth.2

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2020, 04:57:34 PM »
Take Mr. Crane for a retreat at sea.

Since absolution is dependent on contrition, one wonders why a priest should grant absolution without any action on Mr Crane's part demonstrating that. Surely a repentant molester would sever such a relationship and, for the sake of being unable to continue in his child-molesting ways, turn himself in to face the human justice he deserves.
I agree with both of you.
 
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2020, 04:42:07 AM »
Is there general confusion around the idea the people's ability for self-deception means that they are capable of justifying to themselves even the most evil of actions?  Or is it just a couple of (deliberately?) obtuse forum members who cannot understand it?

No, I just don't accept the claim you made, which is in principle untestable.

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Describing the rationalizations that people make for themselves does not mean that one accepts them as legitimate excuses.  I can think of few things more obvious than the fact that there is no legitimate excuse for sexually molesting a child. 

Rationalisations, especially those expressed to others, are not the same thing as what someone sees himself as doing when he does it.
 

Offline The Theosist

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2020, 04:53:47 AM »
Take Mr. Crane for a retreat at sea.

Since absolution is dependent on contrition, one wonders why a priest should grant absolution without any action on Mr Crane's part demonstrating that. Surely a repentant molester would sever such a relationship and, for the sake of being unable to continue in his child-molesting ways, turn himself in to face the human justice he deserves.

There isn't strictly any "child molesting" going on, since Emily is 13 and therefore post-pubescent. What we're talking about seems to be consensual sex between a minor and somebody who is not a minor. (Otherwise what did Emily confess?)

A thirteen-year-old is a child, and no, she is not capable of free, informed consent of a sexual nature with a man in a position of power over her.


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But regardless, who says that Mr. Crane has no contrition? If he's sincere, he has already stopped with the sex. I see no need for him to sever the mentorship or turn himself in to the police. It might be a good idea to sever the mentorship, but he doesn't have to. (Unless it's an occasion of sin for either of them.)

Obviously it's an occasion for sin, and removal of it an essential sign of resolve, a necessary condition of contrition, to not do it again. This is like swearing off pornography without deleting it from your hard drive. I call bullshit.

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He certainly shouldn't turn himself into the police... that's just stupid.

No, it's not stupid. If he's truly sorry for his crimes, if he truly believes what he did was terrible, he should surely be willing to see justice served and restitution made. Moreover, not informing the parents of what has happened leaves the girl in a situation where she is not receiving the help she needs. That is part of justice, rectifying a wrong, and the will to do it surely a part of contrition when the latter isn't merely a self-centered reaction of self-pity and fear.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 04:58:53 AM by The Theosist »
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2020, 08:34:29 AM »
A thirteen-year-old is a child, and no, she is not capable of free, informed consent of a sexual nature with a man in a position of power over her.

What I was getting at is that there's an essential difference between sexual acts directed towards a pre-pubescent person and sexual acts directed towards a post-pubescent person. If you want to call the latter "child molestation" then I suppose that's fine, but it's not exactly comparable to the former.

In what sense was she not "free"? She may be young but she's not stupid. As soon as she became aware of the situation, she conceivably could have gone to her parents or to the priest and raised some sort of a complaint against Mr. Crane (or, had she been too scared or embarrassed to do that, she could have at least asked to be re-assigned to a different mentor without really specifying what the problem was). Another option would have been for her to send a reply text to Mr. Crane, telling him to cut it out. Granted, the OP's hypothetical situation lacks details making it impossible to know just how "free" she was or how two-sided the relationship may or may not have been. Saints such as Agnes and Maria Goretti have proven themselves "free" in far worse situations, but a person lacking in grace would not have been able to resist. It's not clear whether Emily knew what Mr. Crane was up to or whether she ever welcomed his sexual advances, though at some point she did come to realize what was happening.

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Obviously it's an occasion for sin, and removal of it an essential sign of resolve, a necessary condition of contrition, to not do it again. This is like swearing off pornography without deleting it from your hard drive. I call bullshit.

That's generally true, but you never know. But yeah, he should probably cut off the mentorship.

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No, it's not stupid. If he's truly sorry for his crimes, if he truly believes what he did was terrible, he should surely be willing to see justice served and restitution made. Moreover, not informing the parents of what has happened leaves the girl in a situation where she is not receiving the help she needs. That is part of justice, rectifying a wrong, and the will to do it surely a part of contrition when the latter isn't merely a self-centered reaction of self-pity and fear.

If by "justice" you mean taking reasonable steps to correct the damage when possible and practical, then I agree. However, turning yourself in to the police usually doesn't accomplish this. All that does is destroy your livelihood, which is completely unnecessary here. (Even worse if, unlike Mr. Crane, you are the head of a large Catholic family.) Probably also cuts you off from the sacraments for quite some time (unless the prison chaplain happens to be a traditionalist priest).
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 08:53:36 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline trentcath

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2020, 09:45:17 AM »
A thirteen-year-old is a child, and no, she is not capable of free, informed consent of a sexual nature with a man in a position of power over her.

What I was getting at is that there's an essential difference between sexual acts directed towards a pre-pubescent person and sexual acts directed towards a post-pubescent person. If you want to call the latter "child molestation" then I suppose that's fine, but it's not exactly comparable to the former.

In what sense was she not "free"? She may be young but she's not stupid. As soon as she became aware of the situation, she conceivably could have gone to her parents or to the priest and raised some sort of a complaint against Mr. Crane (or, had she been too scared or embarrassed to do that, she could have at least asked to be re-assigned to a different mentor without really specifying what the problem was). Another option would have been for her to send a reply text to Mr. Crane, telling him to cut it out. Granted, the OP's hypothetical situation lacks details making it impossible to know just how "free" she was or how two-sided the relationship may or may not have been. Saints such as Agnes and Maria Goretti have proven themselves "free" in far worse situations, but a person lacking in grace would not have been able to resist. It's not clear whether Emily knew what Mr. Crane was up to or whether she ever welcomed his sexual advances, though at some point she did come to realize what was happening.

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Obviously it's an occasion for sin, and removal of it an essential sign of resolve, a necessary condition of contrition, to not do it again. This is like swearing off pornography without deleting it from your hard drive. I call bullshit.

That's generally true, but you never know. But yeah, he should probably cut off the mentorship.

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No, it's not stupid. If he's truly sorry for his crimes, if he truly believes what he did was terrible, he should surely be willing to see justice served and restitution made. Moreover, not informing the parents of what has happened leaves the girl in a situation where she is not receiving the help she needs. That is part of justice, rectifying a wrong, and the will to do it surely a part of contrition when the latter isn't merely a self-centered reaction of self-pity and fear.

If by "justice" you mean taking reasonable steps to correct the damage when possible and practical, then I agree. However, turning yourself in to the police usually doesn't accomplish this. All that does is destroy your livelihood, which is completely unnecessary here. (Even worse if, unlike Mr. Crane, you are the head of a large Catholic family.) Probably also cuts you off from the sacraments for quite some time (unless the prison chaplain happens to be a traditionalist priest).

Not really sure what planet you are on, but we are talking someone who is 13 not someone who is say 16 or 18. Assuming the age of consent is not 13 but is 16 or 18 then this is clearly not only immoral but also borderline illegal. Some jurisdictions actually ban grooming, sexting etc... I don't see why this individual should not turn himself into the police, at least if he is incapable of restraining himself, if he has committed a crime he should pay the applicable penalty. In any event, assuming the person is incapable of making restitution and of genuinely repenting of his sin, which involves an effort to stop committing it, he has already cut himself off from the sacraments.

 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2020, 10:15:24 AM »
A thirteen-year-old is a child, and no, she is not capable of free, informed consent of a sexual nature with a man in a position of power over her.

What I was getting at is that there's an essential difference between sexual acts directed towards a pre-pubescent person and sexual acts directed towards a post-pubescent person. If you want to call the latter "child molestation" then I suppose that's fine, but it's not exactly comparable to the former.

The stage of sexual development of the victim makes a difference to the precise term used to describe the perversion in question. (A thirteen-year-old's development will vary by individual.) Legally and morally it is sexual abuse of a minor.   Mr. Crane has molested a child in this scenario, just as if he had preyed on an eight-year.  It is not a difference that makes a difference.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2020, 11:25:51 AM »
I don't see why this individual should not turn himself into the police, at least if he is incapable of restraining himself, if he has committed a crime he should pay the applicable penalty. In any event, assuming the person is incapable of making restitution and of genuinely repenting of his sin, which involves an effort to stop committing it, he has already cut himself off from the sacraments.

I don't know what the OP's intended meaning was, but the way I read it I took Mr. Crane to be an older gentleman who, while mentoring the 13-year-old Emily, ended up falling into disgusting and totally-inappropriate sins of lust with her. He eventually came to his senses, stopped committing the sin, repented of it, and went to confession. There is no indication that he wasn't sincere, nor is there any indication that he is incapable of restraining himself, especially after having received the grace of the confession. If he were a truly wicked and unrepentant man who will never be able to restrain himself then perhaps he should be locked up, in order to protect at least his future victims from his sin. But if that's not the case, there's no point in destroying his life or in tormenting him with sins already forgiven.

On second thought, I guess this is probably not what the OP had in mind. Because if this were the case, what would be the point in the priest warning Emily's parents about something that was no longer an issue? Could just be that he's being extra cautious though.


The stage of sexual development of the victim makes a difference to the precise term used to describe the perversion in question. (A thirteen-year-old's development will vary by individual.) Legally and morally it is sexual abuse of a minor.   Mr. Crane has molested a child in this scenario, just as if he had preyed on an eight-year.  It is not a difference that makes a difference.

There is a difference though. If your point is only that Mr. Crane was trying to take advantage the weak and defenseless, then I concede the point. It may have been so.

However, we don't know the reason why he went after her. Maybe he was "preying" on her, as you say. Perhaps he sought the mentorship just so he could be a pervert. But there is another possibility: Maybe he honestly wanted to help out at the parish / get involved with mentoring, and, in the process, unfortunately ended up falling into a sin of acts of lust which merely happened to be directed at somebody who happened to be a defenseless minor (the same could have happened had Emily been, say, 16 or 17 years old, not as defenseless).
« Last Edit: September 07, 2020, 11:45:59 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Jayne

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2020, 12:11:57 PM »
However, we don't know the reason why he went after her. Maybe he was "preying" on her, as you say. Perhaps he sought the mentorship just so he could be a pervert. But there is another possibility: Maybe he honestly wanted to help out at the parish / get involved with mentoring, and, in the process, unfortunately ended up falling into a sin of acts of lust which merely happened to be directed at somebody who happened to be a defenseless minor (the same could have happened had Emily been, say, 16 or 17 years old, not as defenseless).

Typically people who molest children are serial predators.  They seek out positions that give them access to prey.  It is unusual for there to be isolated incidents of "falling into lust".  This is one reason why it is so important to identify them and remove them from society.  These people do not stop themselves.  They continue preying on one victim after another until somebody stops them.

The "falling into lust" model is the thinking behind the old practice of moving sexual predator priests to another parish.  They thought that removing the priest from the person whom they thought had triggered the behaviour would stop it.  But this way of thinking about it is simply incorrect and led to countless children becoming prey to priests.

A person who does not stop himself from acting on a physical attraction to a thirteen-year-old, no matter how physically mature she appears, has something fundamentally wrong with him.  The power imbalance is part of the perversion.  It should not be treated as an isolated incident of "falling into lust" because he is likely to repeatedly recreate that kind of relationship.
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Offline trentcath

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2020, 12:25:04 PM »


I don't know what the OP's intended meaning was, but the way I read it I took Mr. Crane to be an older gentleman who, while mentoring the 13-year-old Emily, ended up falling into disgusting and totally-inappropriate sins of lust with her. He eventually came to his senses, stopped committing the sin, repented of it, and went to confession. There is no indication that he wasn't sincere, nor is there any indication that he is incapable of restraining himself, especially after having received the grace of the confession. If he were a truly wicked and unrepentant man who will never be able to restrain himself then perhaps he should be locked up, in order to protect at least his future victims from his sin. But if that's not the case, there's no point in destroying his life or in tormenting him with sins already forgiven.

On second thought, I guess this is probably not what the OP had in mind. Because if this were the case, what would be the point in the priest warning Emily's parents about something that was no longer an issue? Could just be that he's being extra cautious though.


I'm guessing the "not" was unintentional? Because yes I think that is the situation at hand.
 

Online TheReturnofLive

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2020, 07:40:10 PM »
Guys, doesn't the seal applies regardless if the Priest grants absolution?

If I went to a Priest and confessed the murder of my inlaws, and he told me I had to turn myself in to receive absolution, and I said "no, I hated my inlaws," and the priest shoos me away, the priest can't then report me to the cops, right?
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2020, 08:10:18 PM »
Guys, doesn't the seal applies regardless if the Priest grants absolution?

If I went to a Priest and confessed the murder of my inlaws, and he told me I had to turn myself in to receive absolution, and I said "no, I hated my inlaws," and the priest shoos me away, the priest can't then report me to the cops, right?

That's my understanding of it. Otherwise there'd be a serious problem.
 

Offline coffeeandcigarette

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Re: Canon Law, Legal Question on whether fact pattern breaks the Confession Seal
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2020, 08:16:10 PM »
Is there general confusion around the idea the people's ability for self-deception means that they are capable of justifying to themselves even the most evil of actions?  Or is it just a couple of (deliberately?) obtuse forum members who cannot understand it? Anyone who has encountered the talking points of abortion supporters (which is presumably all of us) must be aware of this facet of human nature.

Describing the rationalizations that people make for themselves does not mean that one accepts them as legitimate excuses.  I can think of few things more obvious than the fact that there is no legitimate excuse for sexually molesting a child.  It is intellectually dishonest to take my words out of context to pretend that I think otherwise.  Even LTC is not stupid enough to really think I consider it acceptable to sexually molest a child.

For the record, molesting children is evil and sickening.

Just ignore him...he is on something...