Father Paddy O’Kane has announced that he would rather go to jail than break the seal of the confession. Under the proposed legislation priests in Ireland could be convicted of a criminal offense if they withhold information about sexual abuse or abuse of children from the police.
O’Kane’s response came after the Irish Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, saying that protection measures will “apply regardless of any internal rules of any religious grouping”.
Shatter said that in the past the Catholic Churches actions had led pedophiles to believe that they acted with “impunity”.
O’Kane from Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty, told the BBC that he will not accept these new rules. He said that if the legislation is put in place “priests will be prepared to go to jail rather than break the seal," he said.
"It's at the very core of what a priest is. If a priest were to break the seal he will be automatically excommunicated.
"Priests cannot function if they're not allowed to keep the seal of confession."
This new legislation is part of the child protection measures which were announced after the publication of the Cloyne report. The report found that the diocese had repeatedly failed to report complaints about priests within the community.