Sunday, 5 January 2014

St John of Nepomuk, Martyr for the Seal of the Confessional

In central Europe, one often encounters this saint presiding over bridges:

St John Nepomuk, Martyr (1345-1393)

St John Nepomuk was confessor to the Queen of Bohemia of the day, which was fine until Wenceslaus IV wanted to know what she was confessing. St John refused to tell under torture, so he was thrown into the Vltava from Charles Bridge in Prague where he drowned.  His statue stands on Charles Bridge and many other bridges in Bavaria, Austria, Bohemia, Northern Italy, Poland and Lithuania.  Sometimes he is depicted with his finger on his lips.  He is the first known martyr regarding the Seal of the Confessional.

Most western nations uphold the freedom of religion and the inviolability of the Seal is a keystone of religious freedom for Catholics and Orthodox.  Irish jurisprudence extended this privilege to any pastoral business between priests, ministers, rabbis and other religious official with members of their denominations.  This prevailed until a particularly sorry set of individuals came to power in Ireland and decided they knew better than decades of court decisions and deliberation on human rights.

The less said, the better.  Next election, use your vote wisely.

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