THE ROMAN Catholic Church is vehemently opposed to calls for priests to break the seal of the confessional to report admissions of child abuse.
That’s according to a leading figure in the Roman Catholic Church who told a public inquiry they would rather die than violate “an essential part of the exercise of priesthood”.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, made the comments during an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
The Cardinal said the church would rebuff any recommendation from the IICSA calling on priests to disclose matters admitted to them during the sacrament.
Cardinal Nichols, who is President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, added that throughout history priests have fought and died to defend their role in confession and that “it might come to that” again.
"I would defend the Seal of Confession absolutely. The history of the Catholic church has a number of people who've been put to death in defence of the Seal of Confession.,” he said.
“It might come to that. But the Seal of Confession is of a sacred nature and its at the heart of the priest ministry acting in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
He added: “I think the Seal of Confession is an essential part of the exercise of priesthood as a nexus between my sinful humanity and the mercy of god, and I would defend the Seal of Confession absolutely."
Cardinal Nichols also warned that any introduction of Mandatory Reporting could leave priests at risk from false claims of a previous confession.
"It would also put every priest in this country in a position of great liability because he would not be able to defend himself if someone went forward and said 'I told Father X that I am an abuser' - anybody could do that and no priest could defend himself."
The calls come in the wake of a difficult few years for the Catholic Church with a string of sexual abuse cases coming to the fore in the past few years.
Back in February, a Texas Catholic Diocese has published a list of just over 300 priests who stand accused of historical sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1940s.
In Australia, former Vatican treasurer George Pell became the most senior Catholic figure to ever be found guilty of sexual offences against children.
He was handed a six-year sentence for abusing two 13-year-old choir boys in 1996.