Break-the-Silence Legislation vs. Religion


Mefiante (November 05, 2009, 11:40:13 AM):
Beeld: Saak teen dominee laat vaar (Case against minister dropped).

Briefly, the prosecutor in Welkom, Free State, dropped charges against a church minister who had failed to report the sexual abuse of a nine-year-old girl to the police, as required in terms of §54, Criminal Offences Act 32 of 2007. “Compassionate reasons” were cited for the decision, and the minister agreed to provide one year’s community service in the form of counselling for sex abuse victims.

Two things intrigue us about this article. Firstly, while the minister didn’t get off entirely scot-free, we can’t help speculating that if he had been something other than a church minister – a mine manager, for example – he’d face a somewhat stiffer penalty, even without any priors. We think this, based on the many special considerations religious institutions have both appropriated for themselves and which they continue to receive more or less unquestioned. But that’s just an idle guess.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly, there’s this:
Quote from: “Saak teen dominee laat vaar”
Labuschagne het bevestig dat niemand behalwe ’n prokureur kragtens dié nuwe wet die privilegie tot geheimhouding het nie – nie eens geestelike leiers nie.

Labuschagne [the prosecutor] confirmed that no one except an attorney has the privilege of confidentiality in terms of this new law – not even spiritual leaders.
So what does that mean for the Confessional Seal of Catholics and other denominations? Does this mean that a Catholic priest can be charged if he learns from a penitent about the sexual abuse or molestation of a child and fails to report it? We would certainly hope so, but it’s unlikely given how the Roman Catholic Church has gone out of its way to protect paedophiles within its own ranks. Very probably, the Church will claim that its canon must override secular laws because it is much older, spiritual and divinely inspired.

Even if that means protecting pederasts. Sick.



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