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Priest hears 'confession' by radio

Outspoken Melbourne priest Fr Bob Maguire was a guest on youth radio station Triple J on Sunday night when host John Saffran invited callers to take part in radio confessions.

Three listeners rang in, confessed on air, and were given penance by Father Maguire.

But Vicar General of the Melbourne Archdiocese Monsignor Les Tomlinson said the church regards radio confessions as inappropriate because they break the secrecy seal of the confessional. He said there could be severe repercussions for a priest who broke the seal, including defrocking or excommunication.

"The penitent may choose to reveal the contents of their confession, but the priest can never break the seal of the confessional, and that includes broadcasting it on radio," Monsignor Tomlinson said.

Monsignor Tomlinson said the callers' sins would not have been forgiven because the official words of absolution were not used, and was concerned the callers may have believed they had received real absolution.

The church has long resisted calls for phone confessions, insisting the rite be kept personal. Monsignor Tomlinson said radio confessions could also embarrass a third party who had not consented to being identified.

Oh Father who art on radio (Herald-Sun 4/2/05)

Triple J
John Safran Website
John Safran vs God (SBS TV) | Episode 3: Catholic priest Bob Maguire introduces John to the principals of Catholicism Father Bob style
Sts Peter and Paul's Parish, South Melbourne | Fr Bob Maguire AM RFD

Melbourne priest blames celibacy for assault (CathNews 9/12/03)

4 Feb 2005