AP Casts Confessional Seal as Scandalous ‘Loophole’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
AP Casts Confessional Seal as Scandalous ‘Loophole’
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The Associated Press published a piece this week casting the confessional seal as sinister. That its reporters would even think to turn a prosaic defense of this venerable privilege into a scandal is a measure of our secularized times. Only until recently would anyone dare suggest that priests be coerced into revealing what they hear in confession. That cause over the years has been restricted to a handful of rabidly atheistic politicians. But now, apparently, the AP has joined it.

To treat the confessional seal as a scandalous “loophole” is a grim joke. The survival of the sacrament of confession obviously depends on its inviolable confidentiality. This really doesn’t even require explanation any more than the lawyer–client privilege needs explanation. Yet the AP treats the Catholic Church’s upholding of this centuries-long privilege as somehow disturbing and uniquely newsworthy, headlining its piece: “Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting.”

The confessional seal belongs to the Church’s essential exercise of religious freedom, which is clearly protected under the First Amendment. But the AP spins the seal as a nefarious defense of sex abusers in particular. One of the article’s subheads inanely reads, “Sex abuse confessions shielded by clergy-penitent privilege.” Since the confessional seal applies to all confessions, such a subhead is meaningless and misleading. One could say the same about any crime or sin. To make it about sex abuse is a crude smear. (READ MORE from George Neumayr: The U.S. Bishops’ Celebration of Illegal Immigration)

The only thing revealing about this lame hit job is that the AP editors signed off on it. The reporters, at once dim and biased, act as if they are just now learning about the confessional seal, an unquestioned tradition central to the Church’s functioning that has been contained in canon law for centuries. They breathlessly report Catholic resistance to bills that encroach upon the priest–penitent privilege as if this is somehow dubious. To play this up as a man-bites-dog story is preposterous. What do they expect the Church to do? Suddenly declare the confessional seal null and void because some crackpot legislator has proposed a virtue-signaling bill that baldly violates the First Amendment?

Building a sensationalistic story around a restatement of the obvious — that the confessional seal prevents priests from calling the cops on penitents — is not journalism but secularist propaganda. Such sham reporting is designed not to inform readers but to stoke a controversy where there is none.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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