Proposal to increase stringency in notification obligationsJul 06, 2011 10:22 BST
People working within the Church of Sweden who become aware of something that the social welfare services need to act on to protect a child shall have an obligation to report this. This is proposed in a communication to the General Synod that this autumn will address the issues surrounding secrecy and confidentiality obligations in the Church of Sweden.
Communication SK 2011:07 on secrecy and confidentiality obligations proposes several changes to the Church of Sweden's current practices. One of these proposals is to prohibit the dissemination of information from the Church of Sweden's family advice service. In certain cases information may be revealed if the social welfare services or the police are to be notified, or if the law demands the provision of information or the notification of a government agency. This would better align the provisions of the Church with the corresponding regulations in the Swedish Social Services Act.
In addition a more stringent notification obligation is proposed. It is proposed that those working within the Church of Sweden who become aware of something that the social welfare services need to act on to protect a child shall have an explicit obligation to notify the social welfare services of this. In the past the Church Ordinance has contained the milder wording “should notify”.
As is currently the case, priests will be obliged to observe strict secrecy concerning information they have been made aware of during confession or in the course of pastoral care. As the ethical principle of confidentiality is so central to the work of priests and deacons within the Church of Sweden the Church proposes that a vow of secrecy should be included among the ordination vows made when a deacon or priest enters service.
The Central Board of the Church of Sweden commissioned an investigation into the obligation of secrecy within the Church of Sweden in April 2008. The investigation was given the task of analysing the obligation of secrecy of priests and deacons from a broad perspective, starting from the Church Ordinance (the rules and regulations of the Church of Sweden) and practical operational realities. The communication on confidentiality obligations will be addressed by the 2011 General Synod.