Article Title

Should religious confession privilege be abolished in child abuse cases? Do child abusers confess their sins?


This article interrogates the suggestion that abolishing the seal of confession will protect children from abuse. It deconstructs the evidence John Cornwell used in The Dark Box to assert that Catholic priests do in fact confess child abuse in the face of contrary Irish research, and compares the current idea that child sex abusers cannot be rehabilitated against modern scientific evidence. But the heart of the article is a survey of the legal and practical reasons why it is correct to say that abolishing confession privilege would not help child abuse victims. In doing so, it considers the application of evidence law to this issue, as well as the tension between the right to religious freedom established by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the needs of victims.


evidence law, child abuse, seal of confession, religious freedom, needs of victims

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