UPDATED: A Catholic priest in his 30s told a court in Bergen on Tuesday he didn’t know 16 was the age of consent in Norway. The priest had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl during the summer, who he described as the “love of his life.”
In a statement to the court, the priest said he thought the age of consent was 14 years, as in other countries he has lived in. “When we started the relationship I knew I had broken the church’s laws,” reported newspaper Bergens Tidende (BT). “I was not aware that I broke the Norwegian law.” He said the relationship was not just about sex, and started as an innocent flirtation before they first had intercourse.
The girl said she went to the Catholic church to confess the relationship, and was promised “100 percent” that it would be in confidence, but that confidence was broken with catastrophic effects. “The case was prosecuted against my will after my confession,” she testified. “It was not I who reported this, but the Catholic Church. I didn’t want this to be known.”
The girl was not Catholic. Alois Broderson, a priest at St Paul’s in Bergen, told BT only Catholics can receive sacramental confession, and priests are otherwise obliged to report crimes. The prosecution sought six months imprisonment with one month suspended, while the girl said the relationship was consensual and she did not want the priest to be prosecuted.
He was sentenced to six months’ jail, five months suspended. His lawyer sought for the sentence to be wholly suspended, and they may appeal the decision. The man is also being investigated by the Catholic church, and has been removed from the priesthood.