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Anger over pupils' 'sins' listed on artwork at Mass, claims it breaches 'GDPR and seal of confession'

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A school is discontinuing the practice of having students write their sins on artwork for display at Mass amid claims it breaches privacy, GDPR and the seal of confession.

Children at Cratloe National School, Co Clare, were asked to write their sins on artwork to be displayed at first confession Mass in the local church on March 13.

Around 30 had made a paper cross, each with the child's photograph at its head.

Stretching across the arms of the cross was the word "sorry" in decorative writing completed by the child. The child's sins were written at the shaft of the cross.

They were laminated and had a ribbon to attach them to the end of the pew.

A relative of one of the children said a parent had contacted Fr Richard Keane and requested him not to display the cross made by their child on the night.

The source pointed out the same crosses had been provided in the church in the spring of 2017.

Once the parent became aware that similar artwork would be displayed, they met Fr Keane.

The relative said Fr Keane promised to ring the school to state that these crosses would not be used for any child during the first confession Mass. However, this wasn't done.

"The use of this cross is a breach of the seal of confession, GDPR and privacy rules.

"It was bizarre and inappropriate for children to write their sins on a cross that can be viewed by other people in a church. Naming and shaming sins is medieval.

"The parent was very angry to be faced with the cross after specifically asking the priest not to display it," the relative said.

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Fr Keane said he worked in the Marriage Tribunal in Cork on Monday and Tuesdays and due to his busy schedule completely forget to contact the school to pass on the message.

He didn't introduce the practice, which was done "for years", and wasn't made aware of any issue until he was contacted by one parent.

School principal Dr Susan Frawley said the school hadn't been aware one parent didn't want the cross to be displayed on the pew at the Mass.

She confirmed the practice would be discontinued in the future, which was confirmed to the mother.

Acknowledging the same crosses were provided two years ago in the church, she stressed this was the first time that someone had been upset about it and noted no concern was communicated to the school two years ago.


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