No national security tip offs, religious leaders say

Backing a refusal by Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders to give national security tip offs to authorities, Melbourne Jesuit Fr Peter Norden says that no minister of religion can betray a confession without doing away with the profession.

The Australian reports that the religious leaders said protecting confidential information was their "bread and butter" and they would not betray the trust of their followers.

The Jesuit Social Services associate director told The Australian he would be prepared to give police information only if the tip-off was crucial for the safety of others.

But he said he would make sure the information given did not identify the person who provided it.

"If there's a particular threat, then you can urge the person or seek the permission of a person to take the matter further," Fr Norden said.

"You would be entitled to take some steps to protect human life but you need to do that in such a way that it was of a general nature and wouldn't identify the person concerned."

He said religious leaders could not be seen to betray their followers' confidence.

"It's the bread and butter of our profession," he said.

"If you were (to betray confessors), you would have to do away with the profession for minister of religion."

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria president Meir Shlomo Kluwgant said rabbis were bound to the same confidentiality procedures as counsellors, but were able to tip-off the authorities if the information they received suggested someone's life was in danger.

His comments follow revelations in the paper last week that Muslim clerics did not provide national security authorities with tip-offs about their followers seeking advice on travelling overseas to join the Islamic jihad movement.

Faith leaders united on tip-offs (The Australian, 14/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Confession (Wikipedia)
Confession (Catholic.com)

New threat to confessional seal (CathNews, 18/9/03)
Wounded priest guards the secret of the confessional (CathNews, 22/5/00)

14 Jun 2007