A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vincent Tabak trial - confession to a chaplain?

Chaplain leaves Bristol Crown Court after
professing confessing never took place
Much is being made at the moment about Vincent Tabak, the Dutchman on trial for the murder of Joanna Yeates, and his so-called confession to a prison visitor. The press likes to mix religion with other things. It's like a kind of cocktail. In a pub one can sometimes get cocktails but most publicans suggest that mixing religion with, say, politics, is not a good idea. With the press the opposite is the case. They love mixing religion with anything going. Murder or alleged murder is a good option for them. So when a member of the Salvation Army, who is also a lay prison chaplain, ventured into the prison cell of accused Vincent Tabak, a discussion took place.

Yesterday the court heard that Tabak told Mr. Peter Brotherton, the lay chaplain in question, that "I have got something to tell you that is going to shock you". What was said was spiced up by the press as a "confession". Shock horror! The seal of the confession was broken! No such thing of course. Mr. Brotherton is, as a Salvationist, under no priestly obligation to honour what is said as if during the sacrament of penance. And as Mr.Brotherton pointed out, Tabak had not indicated any religious affiliation or belief. This was just a chat in a cell.

So the press could have said it was just a friendly chat. It is possible that Tabak was led to believe that such a conversation would be confidential, but that shows naivety on his part. Proper confessions are one thing, cosy chats quite another. The media has implied that a confession was made. It might have been some kind of "spilling the beans" to a friendly face, but it was not religious in context.

In order to prevent misunderstandings on all sides, perhaps there needs to be a clearer understanding of the sacrament of penance. That would help abate misleading headlines in future.


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