In 2016, the Supreme Court of Louisiana heard a similar case, in which a priest was asked to reveal the contents of a confession of a minor, which he was alleged to have heard. The court upheld the priest's right to the seal of confession. Louisiana's law makes an exemption for priests as mandatory reporters in cases of abuse of minors if he "under the discipline or tenets of the church, denomination, or organization has a duty to keep such communication confidential."
Earlier this year, the bishops of Australia indicated that they would resist the Royal Commission's proposal to criminally punish priests who do not break the seal of confession in cases involving the abuse of minors. The proposal was made in response to a widespread clerical sex abuse scandal that broke in the country in recent years.
While the Catholic Church upholds the seal of confession, it also recognizes clerical abuse of minors as criminal and gravely sinful.
In recent years, the Vatican has expanded its efforts to protect children from sexual abuse. In 2001, the Church issued norms strengthening its approach to prosecuting crimes committed against children, requiring that allegations of abuse be forwarded to civil authorities and to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
In March 2012, Pope Benedict XVI issued guidelines to prevent abuse of minors and to involve the faithful in abuse prevention.
Pope Francis has continued these efforts during his pontificate, creating a special group within the CDF to hear the cases of high-ranking clerics charged with the most serious crimes. He has also begun to study the possibility of introducing to canon law the crime of "abuse of office" for bishops who fail to fulfill their responsibilities to prosecute sex abuse.
In addition to disciplinary measures against abusers, the Church has also worked at the highest level to reach out to victims and provide them with counseling and support.