DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     August 24, 1999     vol. 10, no. 159

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT WILL RESPECT SECRECY OF CONFESSION

Holy See Obtains Agreement in Face of Canadian Proposal

          NEW YORK, AUG 23 (ZENIT).- Bishop Vincent R. LaRocca, Holy See delegate of the Preparatory Commission, which is responsible for articulating the statutes of the future Court, said the International Criminal Court will respect the secrecy of the confessional.

          Several weeks ago, Canada proposed that the International Court rethink the centuries-old tradition, according to which a priest is not compelled to reveal what he hears in the confessional. The proposal would apply to the ministers of all Christian denominations.

          Such a proposal, would have had especially grave consequences for Catholic priests. According to the Code of Canon Law, a priest who reveals a secret told in confession is automatically excommunicated. The only institution that can lift the excommunication is the Holy See (can. 1388,1). According to Canada's proposal, the priest who refused to reveal the secret of confession would be prosecuted by law. The Code of Canon Law (can. 983) specifies that the sacrament is inviolable and the confessor does not have the right to betray the penitent. There have been saints in history, like St. John Nepomucene, who gave their life to protect the secrecy of the confessional.

          The proposal to create an International Criminal Court was made last year during a Conference in Rome, sponsored by the United Nations. It is hoped that the proposal will be ratified by at least 60 countries. The Court's establishment was supported by the Holy See, so that genocide and other grave crimes against humanity, might be brought to justice. ZE99082303


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August 24, 1999       volume 10, no. 159
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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