Amid sex abuse scandals, Vatican upholds confession secrecy

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Amid pedophile clergy scandals, the Vatican is declaring "unacceptable" any efforts by politicians or lawmakers to make priests violate their obligation to keep secret what penitents tell them in confession.

The Holy See's Apostolic Penitentiaria, a tribunal dealing with absolution and confessional matters, reiterated the secrecy obligation in a six-page document made public Monday by the Vatican.

The tribunal declared that any "political action or legislative initiative" aimed at violating confessional secrecy would be an "unacceptable offense" toward the church's freedom and religious liberty. It also warned against "the judgment of public opinion."

Tribunal head Cardinal Mauro Piacenza stressed that the document isn't in any way "a justification or form of tolerance of the abhorrent cases of abuse perpetrated" by clergy.