For those who haven't been keeping track of the story, some in the Republic of Ireland (a largely Catholic population, mind you) wanted to pass a law that made it criminal to withold information pertaining to child-abuse.
Now while I'm 100% supportive of prosecuting folks who knowingly allow child-abuse to occur, I am NOT 100% supportive of using the Confessional to acheive those ends.
First of all, Confession is a sacrament that aims at directing one to atone for sins. Secondly, what's to say that folks don't go into a Confessional with the intent to destroy a priest's credibility utilizing this potential law?
Say Fr. Jack is my pastor and called me out on wearing short shorts and a tank-top to Mass on Sunday. I'm angry and ashamed that he called me out on it, so I "go to Confession" and then report back to the authorities that I'd confessed child-abuse and Fr. Jack didn't report it to the authorities.
What happens, then? Fr. Jack gets carted off the jail, completely unable to defend himself due to the seal of Confession (he wouldn't be able to relay ANYTHING that was said there, thus incriminating himself through silence) and my smug little self goes about my life, blissfully unaware of the damage I caused because I only cared about revenge.
True, that's an extreme example, but when you consider how many people absolutely loathe the Catholic Church and would get kicks just by starting trouble for a priest, it's not like that scenario is totally far-fetched.
Thankfully, however, this foolishness is off the table now. Priests can confidently deliver the Sacrament of Reconciliation to their parishioners without having yet another fear gnawing the backs of their minds.
Thank you, God, for answering the prayers of your faithful. May You continue to bless and protect our confessors. They are our life-line to You!