New guidelines drawn up by the Professional Conduct of the Clergy, General Synod, show that child abusers will not be granted absolution upon their Confession, unless they tell the police or social services.
Confessions are a feature in the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. The traditional seal "seal of the confessional" means that the confession will not be dislosed by the clergy. But new guidelines warn that legal challenge might be faced upon confessional confidentiality, for fear that abusers might use the confessional to free themselves of guilt.
"Abuse of children or adults may be admitted . . . While the seal of the confessional is absolute, nevertheless a priest should not only urge the person to report his or her behaviour to the police or social services, but may indeed either make this a condition of absolution or withhold absolution until this evidence of repentance has been demonstrated," says the guidelines.