South African Justice Official Opposes Secrecy of Confession

Triggers Swift Response from Archbishop of Pretoria

Share this Entry

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.

Share this Entry

ZENIT Staff

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation