Saturday, August 30, 2008

Should Religious Leaders Report Domestic Abuse Confessions?

By reporting a confession the priest or religious authority betrays the trust of the faithful. If it is a sin that will endanger lives then the prelate should take immediate steps to safeguard lives but if not then there is no need to report anything. When a prelate reports a faithful the other faithfuls learn, and they avoid the religious authority. Consequently, the priest will lose even the little information he had. We all know the law and prisons neither reform nor transform. If not the percentage of ex-convicts who return to jail will not be that high. Transformation starts from within before without.
The rise in domestic abuse is simply because couples have rejected the word of God. The guidelines of God in Eph 5: 21-33 for a successful marriage are very clear. Once we go out of those guidelines we are bound to wreck that marriage. A lady had confessed to me that she was sleeping with her husband’s brother who was living with them. In some states: New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland and even the US Military which court-martials adulterers adultery is a crime. Should I then report her to the district attorney for prosecution?
Once you report a case like that you betray the trust of the individual. The things ministers hear during confessions must be kept confidential because the confesser trusts you. Before you report anything to the authorities you must forewarned anyone who comes to you saying that you will report to the authorities. If not it will not be different from stabbing someone who runs from impending danger into your house for shelter.
Let us say a child comes to you that they are being abused. That abuse could be relative. First you want to find out if the shelter or foster home would be better for them. As to what I know it is like from frying pan into the fire. Reporting a case like that should be the last resort and you will inform the adults concerned. People always have to be given the opportunity to set straight their crooked paths.
The issue of domestic abuse must be treated from the roots. Many people have not been taught to communicate or negotiate a point of view, and how to love. Just look at our forums: immediately you disagree with someone they turn it personal. We have not mastered communication and problem solving skills. One element to communicate and solve problems too well is patience and tolerance. Be patient to hear from the other person and be tolerant enough to accept that they have a different opinion from you. Both of you negotiate considering the alternatives and finally come out with a choice or a win-win solution. If every couple communicated properly there will be no violence because violence is the weapon of weak communicators; those who cannot make their points across and think that they can only use violence (verbal or physical) to do that.
A promise must be kept. If someone comes and tells you; if I tell you something will you reveal it to anyone? You say no then it should be like that. If you know you are not going to keep it then don’t hear it. We must be trustworthy so that in turn we can win the trust of our confidents. I have saved may more situations in families by keeping their confessions secret than if I leaked them out to the authorities. While violence is the weapon of weak communicators, love is the key that unlocks the secrets of the heart.

Until then, let us learn to keep promises.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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