I believe that a very serious situation is arising for ecumenical dialogue, and especially for the now-pointless (but still-expensive) organisation called ARCIC.
ARCIC and its dialogue were set up on the explicit premise that the old disagreements would be sorted out, and that neither 'side' would put in place any new divergences.
I wonder if the question of the Seal of the Confessional has ever been discussed at any level of 'ecumenical dialogue', nationally or internationally.
Whether or not it has, the subject is now about to become horribly relevant. This is because, in England, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is about to publish its Final Report, and this will be followed by heavy pressure for the (as yet unrepealed) canon maintaining the Seal of the Confessional in the C of E to be changed.
Some historical background.
This is how ARCIC has behaved from beginning to end. Hunwicke's First Law of Ecumenism is: ARCIC NEVER DISCUSSES ANYTHING RELEVANT. ARCIC began work in a decade when the chickens of Lambeth 1932 were coming home to roost: questions of sexual morality were the issue of the day.
These sexual concerns, in turn, bear upon the more basic question of the twentieth and twenty first centuries: whether Christians should resist, or follow, the Spirit and fashions of the Age.
So what did the negotiators do?
They buried their noses in Transubstantiation.
A little later, the Evangelicals wanted 'Justification' dealt with (Newman had disposed of it in a couple of hilarious pages in chapter XVII of Loss and Gain ... but no matter). At that time, in fact, the 'New Look' on S Paul had received broad adherence among Pauline scholars (Ed Sanders ... Covenantal Nomism ...) but the ARCIC wonderboys ignored all that and confined their discussions entirely within the cobwebby categories of three centuries of Prod scholasticism.
Of course, the ARCIC understanding, that neither side would introduce new divergences, had to be bull-dozed out of the way in order to allow for the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries within most Anglican provinces.
But the new imminent divergence concering the Seal of the Confessional is, in some ways, even graver. You see, with the Anglicans going down that path, matters will be made much more difficult for Catholic clergy who may be prosecuted for failing to delate paedophile penitents. Catholic clergy will have been hung out to dry by their Anglican 'friends'.
The Anglicans will also have made it easier for Catholic priests to be sent to prison for contempt of court ... since, of course, a Catholic priest in the witness box is unable even to say "I never heard that in my Confessional", because one is not allowed to say anything about what transpires there. Or even to indicate it by a nod or a wink or a hint or an allusion.
Some moralists used to argue that one could deny having heard something in the confessional by assuming "I heard it while acting as a conduit to God; I did not hear it qua Father X". But this could have the unfortunate effect ... think about it ... of providing a court with evidence which could let a guilty defendant off the hook.
And it's even nastier than that. Anglican clergy probably hear very few confessions compared with the many that some Catholic clergy hear. So the Anglicans would be abandoning their Catholic 'partners in ecumenical dialogue' to be persecuted by the agents of the Zeitgeist with regard to a subject which really matters very little to the overwhelming majority of Anglicans.
Well, so be it. It's a shame the Anglicans are so willing to kick Catholics in the teeth, especially after all those hypocritical decades of pious but wet nonsense about 'Ecumenism'.
Perhaps it's just that they find it so terribly hard to get out of the habit of persecuting Catholics. But there is no need to worry, is there: in a century or two, with tears of emotion pouring from their hypocritical eyes, their successors will formally and grandly apologise to our successors.
Apology, of course, will make everything All Right, won't it?
In the mean time, we should stop wasting time and resources on dialogue, and tell the Anglicans what they can do with their ARCIC.
The money thus saved could be spent dewreckovating sanctuaries.