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A bill under consideration by New Hampshire legislators would require Catholic priests and other religious figures to divulge any information they hear regarding child abuse, even if told to them by parishioners in the private act of "confession."
New Hampshire currently has a statute requiring anyone in the state who suspects child abuse to report it to authorities. The Child Protection Act, enacted in 1979, also places a mandatory reporting requirement on clergy.
However, a separate statute exempts clergymen and women from having to provide court testimony regarding anything told to them during confession.
This is the second time since 2004 New Hampshire lawmakers have attempted to pass such a measure.
It seems to me that such a statute would dissuade offenders from confessing their sins. Not only would offenders thereby be denied confession and penitence, but the offenses would remain undiscovered. That said, if an offender truly seeks absolution for his sins, his confession should be made to God directly!