Catholic priest defies minister of justice / News / The Foreigner

Catholic priest defies minister of justice. Refuses to break oath of silence. It looks as though parts of the Norwegian Catholic Church are sticking to their principles, no matter what. “I have an absolute duty of confidentiality relating to issues I hear under confession, no matter what the politicians demand,” Pater Rolf Bowitz of St Svithun Catholic Church in Stavanger tells Stavanger Aftenblad.

catholic, priests, sexual, abuse, children, church, knut, storberget, minister, justice, audun, lysbakken, law



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Catholic priest defies minister of justice

Published on Sunday, 25th April, 2010 at 21:15 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Refuses to break oath of silence.

St Svithun Catholic Church, Stavanger
St Svithun Catholic Church, Stavanger
Photo: Ztarbreaker/Wikimedia Commons


Silence is golden

It looks as though parts of the Norwegian Catholic Church are sticking to their principles, no matter what.

“I have an absolute duty of confidentiality relating to issues I hear under confession, no matter what the politicians demand,” Pater Rolf Bowitz of St Svithun Catholic Church in Stavanger tells Stavanger Aftenblad.

A possible one-year jail sentence for those who fail to report, or otherwise prevent cases of sexual abuse of minors hasn’t ruffled his clerical collar.

Last week, Knut Storberget, Labour’s (Ap) Minister of Justice, announced he’ll be proposing a bill of amendment to Parliament regarding the obligation to prevent serious criminal acts (avvergingsplikt).

Priest, not policeman

At present, people have an obligation to notify the authorities in cases where they have reliable knowledge of, or fear incidents are imminent, or about to be committed.

The new submission, if adopted, will also include reporting in cases where there are reasonable grounds to suspect it could happen, as well as aiding and abetting a sexual offence.

But Bowitz says he regards the issue as arbitrary.

“Confession applies to sins one has already committed. I’ve never heard anybody confess what they are thinking of doing, though I’ll try to avert it.”

He doesn’t view part of his job as Father as being the extended arm of the law, however.

50/50

Hans Austnaberg, pastor-teacher at the Stavanger’s School of Mission and Theology (Misjonshøgskolen), believes the new law could have unfortunate repercussions.

“The fact that people can confide in certain professions such as priests, knowing that what they say won’t be divulged further, is important,” he says

Though he stresses the continuing importance of confidentiality, he welcomes the new law.

“On the other hand, it’s good that the reporting obligation is both being tightened up, and clarified by specifically mentioning certain offences.”




Published on Sunday, 25th April, 2010 at 21:15 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: catholic, priests, sexual, abuse, children, church, knut, storberget, minister, justice, audun, lysbakken, law.





  
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