Clergy granted decision whether to report child abuse confessions

Clergy will be allowed to “listen to their own conscience” in deciding whether or not to report a case of suspected child abuse or neglect, according to action taken May 7 at the 2004 General Conference.

Except in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law, clergy will be allowed to maintain all confessional confidences.

Those speaking against the motion stressed the greater duty of the clergy to children rather than to confidentiality.

Those opposed to making it mandatory to report such cases said it would be damaging to the pastoral role if people knew the pastor was being forced to disclose confidential information.

“The pastor must make the tough call on whether or not to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect,” said the Rev. Rebekah L. Miles, a delegate from Arkansas, speaking for the Higher Education and Ministry Legislative Committee.

“This gives the pastor the right to listen to his or her own conscience and the higher authority of God.”

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.
After May 10: (615) 742-5470


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
General Agencies
With giving to denomination-wide ministries varying widely, collections seem to indicate conferences are paying at the rates in the proposed general church budget heading to General Conference next year. However, with General Conference delayed, that proposed budget is not in effect. Image by Steve Buissinne, courtesy of Pixabay.

Finance board gets update on giving, reserves

U.S. giving to United Methodist ministries was lower in early 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. However, collection rates varied widely among church funds.
Bishops
The Holston Conference’s Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor embraces the Rev. David Graves following his election as United Methodist bishop at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2016. On April 30, the Council of Bishops affirmed its decision to delay electing any new leaders until after the postponed General Conference. File photo by Annette Spence, Holston Conference.

Bishops’ election plans draw mixed reaction

Many General Conference delegates praised the bishops for retracting an earlier recommendation of four-year hold on United Methodist elections. But some still have misgivings about a delay until 2022.
General Church
The three European central conferences of The United Methodist Church covering 32 countries and 10 time zones are making plans for a proposed denomination-wide split. Four bishops (clockwise from top left), Edward Khegay, Christian Alsted, Harald Rückert and Patrick Streiff, have drafted next steps should a separation plan win General Conference approval. Image courtesy of the bishops.

Europeans make plans for separation

Under a proposed separation plan, some European churchgoers expect to remain with The United Methodist Church while others join a new traditionalist denomination.