Update: In a bizarrely backhanded article, the Sydney Morning Herald puts us all straight about Confession!
Kudos to author of books of dubious orthodoxy and retired bishop Geoffrey Robinson, perennial lefty Catholic Fr Bob, and illicitly-married priest Fr Kevin Lee for all coming out and saying openly that they'd break the seal of the confessional to report paedophilia. And murder. And domestic violence. And maybe a few other things, if they were feeling cranky that day.
I like to know this kind of thing so I don't accidentally pop in to their church on a Saturday morning when I've had a big night out. Who can tell where my (much less exciting) sins would end up? They're all pretty media-savvy, so the sky's the limit.
A priest in a sticky spot can actually ask the penitent for a release from the sacramental seal to discuss the Confession with either the miscreant themselves or others, including the police. This is the obvious solution for any priest when a paedophile comes to confess, and it's the one no-one has yet mentioned.
While we're on this subject, when Fr Kevin Lee went to Confession to admit that he'd married a Filipina bar hostess without first being laicised - a woman who didn't even know he was a priest at first, principally because he didn't tell her - did the priest to whom he confessed immediately go and ring up Fr Lee's bishop and report him?
I seem to recollect instead that Fr Lee managed to keep the existence of 'Mrs Lee' a secret from most people, including his congregation, for about a year. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Clearly Fr Kevin Lee had not done anything wrong in having sex with a woman he wasn't married to, then attempting marriage with her when he's not been laicised, and then keeping the whole thing secret so that he could continue to be a priest and get paid and say Mass and other fun stuff, and then appearing in a rather self-pitying article in the Weekend Australian magazine where the full extent of his self-justification became apparent.
I like the Sacrament of Confession. I like the fact that it's just between me and God. I also know that if I killed someone and then went to Confession, the priest would withhold absolution from me until I'd done the right thing legally - especially if someone else was in the frame for what I'd done.
Robinson, however, has had the sense to admit that most paedophiles don't actually go to Confession, and those that do, don't confess this crime, so demanding that priests break the seal of the Confessional is pretty pointless - as is his public expression of willingness to break the seal, which actually incurs the penalty of ipso facto excommunication.