New laws, making it an offence to withhold information about the sexual abuse of a child or vulnerable adult, have started progressing through the Oireachtas.
The Justice Minister Alan Shatter has started debating the bill in the Seanad because of a long waiting list on legislation in the Dáil.
He said it will close a loophole in the 1998 law that created the offence for all serious crimes except those of a sexual nature.
Minister Shatter said there has been too much of a focus on the seal of the confessional in relation to this new law.
Mr Shatter said: "There has been a lot of media comment suggesting that this bill has an effect on the seal of confession. There are no defences in this legislation which would specifically apply to information received in the confessional nor is there any specific provision with regard to the confessional.
"It will continue to be a matter for any court before which any person is prosecuted to determine whether any particular privilege exists or applies in the circumstances of any particular case."