Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Choose Peter Over Premier

CathNews recently (14 August) reported the following:

In an open letter to Perth Catholics on July 2, Archbishop Costelloe said one of the main purposes of the amendments to the Children and Community Services Act 2004 was to introduce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse for ministers of religion, which includes “religious confession”.

Archbishop Costelloe was joined at the August 6 hearing by Coptic Orthodox priest Fr Abram Abdelmalek, representing the Coptic and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

In my eight-and-a-half years as the Archbishop of Perth, I’ve never tried to do anything other than acknowledge that dreadful history [of sexual abuse], nor have I walked away from the need to translate words into actions,” Archbishop Costelloe told the committee.

And it’s because of this that I understand why people are confused, or even dismayed by my insistence on upholding the principle of the absolute confidentiality of confession, as it is practised in the Catholic Church.”

However, sins are not confessed to the priest, but to God,” Archbishop Costelloe said.  “The priest, therefore, has no right or authority to disclose anything that takes place in this intimate encounter with God.”

To make the free practice of an essential aspect of the Catholic faith illegal, seems to me to be something that modern secular societies have always understood to be beyond the limits of their authority.”

In this case Archbishop Costelloe was choosing Petrine teaching of the Church to the State’s ruling that priests should reveal what is spoken in the Sacrament of Confession.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”” (Matthew 16:19).  It happened in Caesarea Philippi, in front of the magnificent temple to a Roman deity.  The Roman temple in the background reminded poignantly reminded the people that the only choice they have is between Roman reign and Jewish religious precepts.  Now Jesus, with his commissioning of Peter as the foundation of the Church, teaches that there is a third option, and that is to go by his teachings handed over to the generations to come by the Apostles.  Therefore if civil law conflicts with the Apostolic teaching, do not hesitate in accepting the reign of Jesus over the civil rule.  Are you prepared to take up the challenge for the sake of your discipleship of Jesus?