ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: No Plans for Glass-Fronted Confessionals in Wales Yet; after Series of Sex-Abuse Scandals, Some UK Churches Are Opting for Transparency between Priests and Penitents

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 14, 2002 | Go to article overview

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: No Plans for Glass-Fronted Confessionals in Wales Yet; after Series of Sex-Abuse Scandals, Some UK Churches Are Opting for Transparency between Priests and Penitents


Byline: CATHERINE JONES

FOR the time being, Roman Catholic churches in Wales will not install the new style of glass-fronted confessionals which are being introduced elsewhere.

Designed to be a sign of transparency in church dealings, the glassshielded confessionals have already been installed in Plymouth Cathedral and churches in England.

After a series of sex-abuse scandals within the Church, they aim to show others what is happening, thereby protecting children from any risk of abuse from priests and to protect priests from any false accusations.

Canon Robert Reardon, VicarGeneral of the archdiocese of Cardiff, says there are no plans to introduce the sound-proofed cubicles in SouthEast Wales.

He said, ``It's something which will have to be looked at and something which will have to be decided by the clergy and lay people, between parish priest and bishop, but not at the moment. We will look at it in the future but there are no immediate plans.''

Canon Reardon said they would possibly be part of any plans for a new church, although there were none being built in the next few years.

``Certainly confessionals have been - and will be in the future - safe places, with a physical barrier between penitent and priest,'' he said. ``Any adaptations or new buildings will certainly include features which will create a safe environment.''

With the private confessional being a long-standing church tradition, he said new measures would have to strike a balance between the need for openness and the desire of the parishioners for privacy.

``About 25 years ago, the face-toface confessional was introduced as an option - not as something which had to happen - but from my experience the grill is still the people's choice,'' said Canon Reardon. The new confessionals follow last year's recommendation by Lord Nolan, a former law lord, that it should become the norm for children to receive the ``sacrament of reconciliation'' or to make confession in the open. …

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