What’s the difference between a Catholic priest and a doctor or a lawyer?
Well, apart from the fact that a priest has no practical training in anything, the main difference today is that a priest considers himself above the law of the land when it comes to reporting child abusers. You see, if a pervert informs a psychiatrist in confidence that he is raping a child, that professional must and will inform the authorities. So will a lawyer. So will any other professional who receives information in strict confidence.
But the Association of Catholic Priests says that its members’ vows are superior to the law of the land. No matter what a child abuser reveals in confession, they will never tell the authorities, even to save a child from further abuse.
Here we go again. Canon Law versus Statute Law. The law of Rome versus the law of Ireland. As Michael McDowell acidly observed, Canon Law in this country has the same status as the rules of a golf club. No more than that.
Some people have tried to spin this story to suggest that the government has somehow named the Catholic church specifically in the proposed legislation. This is not true. What it has done is impose an obligation on every citizen, including priests, to reveal information relating to the abuse of children.
Any person who shelters, conceals or assists the actions of a child-abuser deserves to go to jail, whether priest, doctor, lawyer or anyone else.
It’s that simple.