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UPDATE: On March 22, Milwaukee's Abp. Jerome Listecki released a statement on Fr. James Connell. It declared that Fr. Connell's "assertions are gravely contrary to the definitive teachings of the Catholic Church" and "that effective immediately he is to cease all such erroneous communications that distort the teachings of the Church about the confessional seal." Furthermore, the archbishop has suspended Connell's faculties to hear confession and grant absolution.
The full original report is found here at the Lepanto Institute.
A retired Catholic priest from the archdiocese of Milwaukee has called upon the people of the state of Delaware to support HB74, which would require priests to report issues of child abuse or neglect should it be mentioned in the confessional. Originally published in USA Today, Fr. James E. Connell penned an op-ed titled "Why Delaware's Clergy–Penitent Privilege Law Should Be Repealed," wherein he concluded that "all people in Delaware should support the proposed HB74 that would repeal the Delaware clergy–penitent privilege statute."
Father Connell argues, "No valid freedom of religion argument rooted in the absence of truth can provide a moral justification for sheltering perpetrators of abuse or neglect of children from their deserved punishment, while also endangering potential victims."
As such, he concludes, "Governments should intervene such that, while perhaps frustrating the free exercise of religion for some people, the greater good of protecting children from abuse or neglect would be enhanced for the common good of all people."
Currently, three other states are also considering laws that would force priests to violate the seal of confession: Utah, Vermont and Washington.
Father Connell, a Chicago divorcee who was ordained to the priesthood in 1987, is a canon lawyer who served as the vice chancellor for the archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1994–2012. After being appointed to the archdiocese of Milwaukee's sexual abuse review board in 2003 by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, he has been active in what he calls "victim advocacy" since at least 2010 when he started meeting with members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the same organization that accused him of acting to cover up sex abuse by priests in October of 2009.
In 2012, Fr. Connell spoke at an event hosted by Voice of the Faithful, an organization intimately connected to the notorious Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, discussing his "new mission" to speak out on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by priests.
Read the rest at the Lepanto Institute.
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