University Of Tasmania

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The sacrament of confession and child sexual abuse: reported practise of Tasmanian Anglican clergy navigating the confidentiality dilemma

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 18:44 authored by Michael Andre GuerzoniMichael Andre Guerzoni
The sacrament of confession is criticised for impeding clerical reporting of information about child sexual abuse to authorities. The sacrament of confession is found within Catholicism and Anglicanism and imposes a ‘seal’ on priests, forbidding them from ever revealing details of the sins confessed to them. This creates a moral dilemma in cases of abuse: should the priest obey canon or civil law? There have been recent efforts in Australian Anglicanism to address this dilemma via canonical reform in 2014 and 2017. In light of these changes, this article examines the perspectives of Anglican clergy in the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania towards the confessional seal. Findings reveal that most clergy would not obey canon law and ecclesiastical instructions about maintaining the confessional seal on the grounds that this requirement contravenes their theological and moral principles. The clergy also describe their approaches to responding to information of harm revealed both in confessional and pastoral encounters,demonstrating a desire to act in ways that assist all parties involved.


Publication title

Journal for the Academic Study of Religion








Faculty of Law


Equinox Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© Equinox Publishing Ltd

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Religious rituals and traditions (excl. structures); Crime prevention