The Justice Minister of Ireland has proposed 5-year sentences for priests who don't report cases of sexual abuse when they hear it confessed in the confessional. Needless to say, a proper outrage has arisen not only from the clergy but also the laity.
Make no mistake. This is not about "protecting children and the vulnerable". It is an excuse to attack the priesthood. Does anyone really think that any serial abuser will step into a confessional if he/she knows they'll be reported?
I might suggest an immediate cessation of the "face-to-face" confession. Restore the practice of all confessions taking place in a screened confessional. I suggest it not only for Ireland (St Patrick must be rolling in his grave) but for all Catholic churches. With all the attacks that the Church here is undergoing in the U.S., it's just a mater of time before this confession stunt is attempted here.