More on confession from Fr. Richard Rohr, in Sojourners Magazine July/Aug 2002 issue:
Hearing confessions is a rather dangerous and lethal profession. It creates a kind of patience with sin that is often scandalous to outsiders. But confession is a very good thing about my Catholic tradition that might not be recognized in the midst of our shame about the pedophilia scandal.
Good confessional practice does not encourage you to read a situation in a forensic or argumentative context, and in fact quite the contrary. The whole purpose is healing and reconciliation. Ours is not "innocent until proven guilty" but actually "guilty and declared innocent." We start with the conviction and move therapeutically from there.
(.....big snip here......)
Our goal is restorative justice, while the best the system can do is retributive justice. The Law cannot ever promise God's restorative justice, much less offer true transformation. We have something much better to give, and we had better not lose it out of fear of lawsuits or fear of looking foolish. We dare not lose our compassion, our patience, our trust, our solidarity with sinners, our capacity for simple kindness, or we have lost everything Jesus taught us. We must both protect victims and heal sinners on both sides, an awesome task in this context. (....... article continues in wisdom, but quoting more wouldn't be fair to Sojourners.)