JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, NOV. 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A government official who criticized the secrecy of the confessional doesn´t know what he is talking about, says an archbishop.
“Clearly, Maduna does not understand the meaning of a sacrament,” Archbishop George Francis Daniel of Pretoria said Thursday, in response to statements made a day earlier by Justice Minister Penuell Maduna.
On Wednesday, the Justice Minister said the secrecy surrounding what´s revealed in the sacrament of penance is a serious obstacle for police operations.
“What do men of the Church and priests do, who hear in confession what a person has done?” the Minister asked.
“They go to the police and say: ´I have heard this highly interesting confession on this or that person who abuses children,´ or they say, ´Let´s protect our religion and pretend that nothing happened,´” Maduna added.
In this context, he insisted, criminals and transgressors “know that once they have spoken to the servant of God, the matter is closed.”
Archbishop Daniel´s response was quick and forceful.
“Priests would prefer to be imprisoned or executed” rather than betray the secrecy of the confessional, the archbishop said.
Maduna´s statement came at a time when South African society is faced with chronic, acute criminality. In recent months, a series of cases of child abuse has shocked the public.
From January 2000 to June 2001, police say, 32,000 sexual attacks against minors were reported.