Wednesday 23 August 2017

Mary Kenny: Why the confessional's seal must remain sacred

About two years ago, in a university town in the south of England, I sought out the services of a professional counsellor for a troubling family situation.

Before proceedings began, she issued me with a statutory warning. If I had broken the law, had any contact with suspected terrorists or knew of illegal drug-smuggling or other serious offences, she would be obliged to pass this information on to the police.

I was stunned. Beyond the odd speeding ticket, I hadn't broken any law. Yet I didn't like the note struck. I was paying for a confidential service and being told that this professional was, in effect, an agent of the state. I did not, somehow, feel free to speak to her openly.

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