I think that even the most gifted priest would admit that he is extremely limited and restricted in terms of the resources he may have at his disposal be they time, knowledge, skill, effort, financial, legal, etc. There are qualified people within the community who are specialised and have studied and experienced these issues in detail and I really can't understand why you would not avail yourself of their help and support, especially in such critical circumstances - all just for some legalistic reasoning of secrecy - makes absolutely no sense.
Y'know, I guess it just astounds me that people have placed in their own minds that there can only be 2 possible outcomes for this situation:
1. The penitent criminal goes forthwith to the police station after being dismissed from the confession; or
2. The criminal, after leaving the confession session which is voluntary and indicative of the person's own desire to change things
, instead will just go about his business unimpeded and without impacting his or her behavior.
Has it occurred to anyone that I also have children that may be endangered by an unimprisoned child molester, and so I may not dismiss the person until I am certain that he will go to the authorities, if not take him there myself while he is under my influence and direction?
Has it not occurred to anyone that it is quite possible that a priest has access to other counselors and social agencies to help this person?
Has it occurred to anyone that, if a child or spouse or other person were endangered, that I can contact the people and suggest they make arrangements to avoid someone without divulging the confession? No one asks or wonders why they should---they just know that there must be a valid reason to do so?
It just astounds me how inaccurate the picture is that is drawn by folks in this situation so let me be very clear:
I would not divulge the Confession.
I also would not let a criminal just wander off.