Louisiana Supreme Court orders priest to testify about confession

posted at 10:01 am on July 8, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Many observers misunderstood the Hobby Lobby dispute and others like it as a First Amendment case, but it wasn’t. It primarily related to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), with an indirect reference to the constitutional freedom of religious expression. A case in Louisiana may be the real McCoy, though. The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that a priest must testify in a case about what he heard in a confessional — an order that would result in automatic excommunication and damnation, according to the doctrine and canon law of the Catholic Church:

The state high court’s decision, rendered in May of this year, demands that a hearing be held in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, where the suit originated, to determine whether or not a confession was made. It reverses an earlier decision by the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals dismissing the original lawsuit filed against Bayhi and the diocese.

The case stems from a claim by parents of a minor that their daughter confessed to Bayhi during the sacrament of reconciliation that she engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with grown man who also attended their church. Court documents indicate the child was 12 years old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.

A criminal investigation by East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office into the alleged sexual abuse was ongoing when the accused church member died suddenly in February 2009 of a heart attack.

The civil lawsuit in question, filed five months later in July 2009, names the late sexual abuse suspect, as well as Bayhi and the Baton Rouge diocese, as defendants. The suit seeks damages suffered as a result of the sexual abuse, noting that abuse continued following the alleged confessions.

The petitioners claimed Bayhi was negligent in advising the minor regarding the alleged abuse and failed his duty as a mandatory reporter in compliance with the Louisiana Children’s Code. It also holds the diocese liable for failing to properly train the priest regarding mandatory reporting of sexual abuse of minors. Defendants claimed, in addition to other points of law, that only the sexual abuse suspect was liable for the suffering the minor endured.

This case gets complicated for a couple of reasons. While the common perception has been that priests cannot be forced to testify about confessions in the US because of ministerial privilege and the First Amendment, that privilege gets defined by each state separately. In Louisiana, the privilege attaches to the person offering the confession and not the priest. Once the penitent has revealed what was said — or perhaps more to the specific point in this case, alleges to have revealed what was said — the state can subpoena the priest to confirm or deny the testimony. In that sense, it’s akin to the lawyer-client privilege, which can be broken by the client.

On the other hand, lawyers don’t face eternal disbarment for testifying once a client has waived the privilege. Priests do, and face automatic expulsion from the Catholic Church for complying. There is nothing in church doctrine that requires a penitent to keep quiet about what transpires in the confessional, but the canon law is clear on this point. Can. 983 states that “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” The punishment for breaking the seal is explicitly noted in Can. 1388: “A confessor who directly violates the sacramental seal incurs a latae sententiae [by the commission of the act] excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; one who does so only indirectly is to be punished according to the gravity of the delict.”

In this case, the trap is even more complex. The court wants the priest to corroborate the girl’s testimony about the confession. Assuming the priest recalls the confession at all — it was five or more years ago, and priests hear a lot of confessions, and most of them anonymously — he’d have to violate canon law just by talking about it. Plus, if he testifies that the witness is not telling the truth about the confession, he’d be violating the seal of the confessional even more profoundly. Either way, the court would in essence force the priest into betraying his faith and violating his oath or face prison time for contempt of court.

Rod Dreher warns that this is a direct attack on religious freedom:

This is a very serious situation. I take no position on whether or not the priest handled the particular situation in the parish wisely or justly, but let there be no mistake: the seal of the confessional must be inviolable. The relationship between a priest and a penitent can only take place in the security of confidentiality given two both parties. …

Again, I’m eager to learn from lawyers who read this blog whether or not the priest here is likely to go to jail, or if he and the diocese are protected by the First Amendment. God help us all if he is not. Even if the plaintiff is telling the truth about the priest advising her in the confessional to sweep it all under the rug, which would make the priest is a scoundrel, the religious freedom principle at stake here is so important that even a scoundrel priest must be defended.

I agree. In order for Catholics to enjoy the free expression of their faith, they have to know that the confessional is inviolable no matter what issues may be at play. For that to happen, priests — who deserve the same freedom of religious expression as everyone else in the US — have to know that they do not risk jail time for the act of hearing confessions. The interest of the state in this civil lawsuit is far outweighed by the need to protect this freedom, and any restriction on privilege set up at the state level that fails to recognize this should be overturned by federal courts on the basis of the First Amendment.

Note: Hat-tip to Gabriel Malor for pointers on the issues of privilege and state law.

Update: A fair question from the comments asks a hypothetical about a priest who learns in confession about an upcoming commission of a crime. Note that this is not exactly what happened in Louisiana, but it’s still a fair hypothetical. Cathy Caridi, a canon lawyer, explains that while a priest has some options to warn the intended victims, he still cannot reveal what was said in confession:

So what does all this mean for the priest who hears the confession of a person who admits that he intends to kill somebody, or who sexually molests children and doesn’t indicate that he will stop? Priests are faced with such difficult situations more often than we laity might think! What are they permitted to do?

Firstly, of course, a confessor can latch onto the fact that if a would-be murderer or child molester has come to confession, he presumably regrets this action and wants to amend his life. The priest can talk this through with the penitent and try to get him to see what true amendment entails. At the very least, he can explain that he cannot impart absolution if the person does not firmly intend to stop committing the sort of sin that he has confessed. Depending on the situation, he may also be able to encourage the person to turn himself in to the authorities. The priest might even offer to accompany the penitent to the police station when he does this; but in such a case he would still be forbidden to repeat the contents of the person’s confession to others. If the penitent wanted him to do so, it would be necessary for him to repeat to the priest, outside the confessional, the things which he had told him in confession. In this way the priest could discuss the penitent’s situation, yet the seal of the confessional would remain inviolate.

If the penitent is not willing to cooperate, there are sometimes situations in which priests can find ways to help the authorities without revealing the content of a person’s confession. If a penitent has indicated, for example, that he fully intends to kill or harm Person X, a priest may be able to warn the police that Person X is in danger, but without fully explaining how he obtained this information. I personally know of a case in which police received a phone call from a priest, warning them that two teenaged sisters were in danger at that very moment. The police understood that the priest was not permitted to give them more specific information, and simply located the girls, notified their parents, and made sure they were protected. It is quite likely that some horrible crime was averted by this priest’s action, yet he did not violate the sacramental seal-in fact, nobody was really sure if he had learned the information in the confessional or in a confidential conversation outside of it. Once again, such collaboration between the authorities and the clergy happens more often than we may realize.

At the same time, however, a confessor is forbidden to go to the police with specific information about a penitent which he had learned during a confession. If, for example, a person confesses that he is the serial killer who is being sought by the authorities, and the priest recognizes his identity, he cannot contact the police and reveal it. This is true even if the person indicates that he intends to commit another crime. While he may strive to lead the criminal to turn himself in, or at least to change his plans, a priest is not allowed to take this information to the police of his own accord. No matter how difficult it may be, he must keep this to himself. We can incidentally see here one more excellent reason to pray for our priests, that they be given the strength to bear such weighty burdens!

This is akin to the “ticking time bomb” hypothetical that was used extensively in the debate over interrogations of terrorists captured after 9/11. Needless to say, it’s a difficult position for priests, but Caridi lays out the options for dealing with it.

Update, 7/10/14: I’ve updated the link to Caridi to direct it to her own site.


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A priest must obey the laws of God, not of man. If he is sentenced to jail, so be it. Any priest that voilates that law is not a priest.

Any priest that divulges anything that is said in confession is no better than a pedophile priest and should be treated as such.

Kuffar on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

“I don’t remember.”

Akzed on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

WTH is wrong with these people !?!?!?!?!

pambi on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

A question from a Jewish guy: what happens if someone tells a priest during confession that he is about to commit some horrible crime? Is there any obligation for the priest to do anything? This would be similar to a therapist when the cilent says he is going to kill himself or harm someone. Any provisions in canon law for such cases?

sultanp on July 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Never mind the first amendment, what about the 5th? I see no way in which this priest can be forced to talk. That said if were him I would have reported the abuse in secret to a tip line or something. Which, come to think of it, he may have.

MikeRuss on July 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM

First, I’m surprised this isn’t a criminal trial rather than a civil one. Secondly:

it was five or more years ago, and priests hear a lot of confessions, and most of them anonymously

This makes said evidence rather weak. Plus the perp is dead.

John the Libertarian on July 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM

When the Church went to “face-to-face” confession (Reconciliation), the number of people going dropped like a rock. Going back to anonymous confessionals would solve this problem since the priest couldn’t testify since he wouldn’t know who said it.

seven_of_8 on July 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

A question from a Jewish guy: what happens if someone tells a priest during confession that he is about to commit some horrible crime? Is there any obligation for the priest to do anything? This would be similar to a therapist when the cilent says he is going to kill himself or harm someone. Any provisions in canon law for such cases?

sultanp on July 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

As far as I’m aware, a priest must still observe Catholic doctrine of confession even if the confessor is planning or admits to perpetrating a crime, no matter what that crime is. A priest can, and probably would in an instance like this, try and convince the confessor to turn himself in…but the priest cannot break the confidential confession.

JetBoy on July 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

The judges forcing a priest to confess should be disbarred and jailed for violation of their oath – and that’s coming from a very non-religious person. That said, the priest should refuse and go to jail, and Jindal should instantly pardon him. In a highly pious state such as Louisiana, the pardon will probably boost him a dozen percentage points of rating. He’ll need it when running in 2016.

Rix on July 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

This shall be recorded as a very interesting time in American history, but whitewashed by liberal scum who write the history books that your grandchildren will read.

Tard on July 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

This is all about attaching culpability to the Catholic church, which has deep pockets. I’m not concerned about the priest’s immortal soul, since confessing to a priest is not biblical, nor is excommunication, but I am concerned about the privilege assigned to discussions between a person and their religious counselor.

Immolate on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

In order for Catholics to enjoy the free expression of their faith, they have to know that the confessional is inviolable no matter what issues may be at play. For that to happen, priests — who deserve the same freedom of religious expression as everyone else in the US — have to know that they do not risk jail time for the act of hearing confessions.

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

The concept of equal protection under the laws is not applied to non-Catholics who seek confidentiality with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

A question from a Jewish guy: what happens if someone tells a priest during confession that he is about to commit some horrible crime? Is there any obligation for the priest to do anything? This would be similar to a therapist when the cilent says he is going to kill himself or harm someone. Any provisions in canon law for such cases?

sultanp on July 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

A psychiatrist is actually mandated to report on a client who has a reasonable expectation of harming another person so the crime would be prevented. However, if the perp succeeds, the psych’s testimony cannot be used against him.

Please note that these days too many judges go by “feeling” rather than law, so the above should be taken with a grain of salt, a slice of lime, and a shot of tequila.

Rix on July 8, 2014 at 10:24 AM

A priest must obey the laws of God, not of man. If he is sentenced to jail, so be it. Any priest that voilates that law is not a priest.

Any priest that divulges anything that is said in confession is no better than a pedophile priest and should be treated as such.

Kuffar on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

What if that priest had someone come I to his booth and confessed that he had bomb wired to explode in the next hour at a federal building down the street? What law should he obey?

coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

I’m going to have to study this issue a bit more. The tension between privileges and cooperating with law enforcement is not always resolved easily.

22044 on July 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

The concept of equal protection under the laws is not applied to non-Catholics who seek confidentiality with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Bullshit. The court recognizes impenetrability of priest-parishioner protection for all denominations, similarly to attorneys and doctors. It’s just that the institute of confession only exists in Catholicism.

Rix on July 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

When it comes to reporting potential child molestation we should hold the Catholic Church to the same standard we hold Planned Parenthood.

Mark1971 on July 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

This is all about attaching culpability to the Catholic church, which has deep pockets. I’m not concerned about the priest’s immortal soul, since confessing to a priest is not biblical, nor is excommunication, but I am concerned about the privilege assigned to discussions between a person and their religious counselor.

Immolate on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Matthew 3:16 “…they were baptized by him [John the Baptist] in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.”

Mark 1:5 “And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

Matthew 9:6-8 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”…he then said to the paralytic…“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

There’s more if you need it.

JetBoy on July 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM

One of the Father Koestler mysteries
Body Count
dealt with situation about violating confessional.
I thought I remember there being something about the confessor allowing it but not sure now.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

The concept of equal protection under the laws is not applied to non-Catholics who seek confidentiality with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Not true. There are Federal laws, and state laws, that protect most clergy of any faith from disclosing information heard by a parishioner or church member along the same lines.

JetBoy on July 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

The petitioners claimed Bayhi was negligent in advising the minor regarding the alleged abuse and failed his duty as a mandatory reporter in compliance with the Louisiana Children’s Code.

Then it becomes a simple 5th amendment case against self-incrimination by the priest.

This case, and decision, are insane.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on July 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

A priest must obey the laws of God, not of man. If he is sentenced to jail, so be it. Any priest that voilates that law is not a priest.

Any priest that divulges anything that is said in confession is no better than a pedophile priest and should be treated as such.

Kuffar on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

This. God’s law is higher than Man’s law. And our Founders acknowledged this… Natural Law IS God’s Law…

Judges have gotten into a nasty habit in the last few decades of believing themselves to be the supreme law in the universe. They aren’t. Like Obama they need to get used to hearing the word NO.

ConstantineXI on July 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Never mind the first amendment, what about the 5th? I see no way in which this priest can be forced to talk. That said if were him I would have reported the abuse in secret to a tip line or something. Which, come to think of it, he may have.

MikeRuss on July 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM

The 5th Amendment is very specific in is text that the provision against self-incrimination applies to criminal cases. As this is a civil case, it would not apply. Though presumably, anything incriminating he said could not later be used against him in a criminal trial. So, unfortunately, the 5th Amendment doesn’t seem to afford him any protection here.

Never-the-less, the 1st Amendment should be recognized as more than enough protection in this situation. A court ordering a priest to violate the seal of the confessional is ordering a minister to violate one of the most sacred tenets of their faith. It is totally contrary to everything our nation has always stood for regarding religious liberty. And we can only hope that either the other branches of Louisana’s government will step in to put this court in their place, or that the federal courts will reverse this order.

Regardless, though, assuming this is a priest who is faithful to his vows, he won’t reveal anything anyway. A priest must be willing to suffer any penalty, up to and including loss of his own life, before he would dare to violate the seal of the confessional. And he must answer to God Almighty if he chooses otherwise. I feel confident that the seal of the confessional will remain intact, one way or another, in this case.

Shump on July 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Confession is therapy for (especially poor) people. It cannot be regulated, controlled and taxed by our all-powerful, all encompassing government, therefore it must die.

Little Boomer on July 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM

WTH is wrong with these people !?!?!?!?!

pambi on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Catholic church is having its remaining powers and protections stripped from it. It’s not hard to understand. I guarantee you will see attempts by the federal government to force Christian churches to perform gay weddings in the next decade, probably in the next five. (favored non-Christian religions, such as Islam, will be allowed to continue to not marry gays, of course).

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

The concept of equal protection under the laws is not applied to non-Catholics who seek confidentiality with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

You’ll forgive me if I insist upon links to back up this assertion.

Furthermore, what does freedom of religion mean to you, exactly? Because I’m pretty sure it means more than “the ability to privately pray to one’s own god in one’s own home” which, you know, could be done anywhere, even in places that don’t have any laws regarding freedom of religion.

Doomberg on July 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM

The judges forcing a priest to confess should be disbarred and jailed for violation of their oath – and that’s coming from a very non-religious person. That said, the priest should refuse and go to jail, and Jindal should instantly pardon him. In a highly pious state such as Louisiana, the pardon will probably boost him a dozen percentage points of rating. He’ll need it when running in 2016.

Rix on July 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Yes.

cptacek on July 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

The concept of equal protection under the laws is not applied to non-Catholics who seek confidentiality with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

If non-Catholics do not enjoy this right when counseling with their clergy, then that is the fault of that particular religion. It is clearly and explicitly spelled out in the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Why isn’t it spelled out in others?

You don’t get to decide what a person’s deeply held religious beliefs are. If they are deeply held religious beliefs, they should be upheld.

cptacek on July 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

In a confessional, a penitent and the priest are on opposite sides of a wall, and talk to each other through a screen. The priest and the girl may not have seen each other to identify each other. How can the girl be sure that the priest she confessed to was Bayhi?

The duty of a priest in a confessional is to offer God’s absolution to the penitent for sins the penitent admits to having committed. If the “inappropriate sexual relations” were forced on the girl by the man, she committed no sin and the priest could give her absolution. The priest has no obligation to report the sexual abuse to the police, since he has no way of knowing whether the girl told the truth, although the girl could have reported the abuse to the police or to her parents, who could have then called the police.

The Catholic Church has come under lots of legitimate criticism in recent decades for failing to discipline priests who have committed sexual abuse. But this case is an “over the top” attempt to extract money from the Church for something it did not do. If Bayhi or other priests in the parish did not actually commit sexual abuse, why is he being sued? The priest should simply state that he does not remember the confession, and was not told the name of the alleged sexual abuser. If the sexual abuser is dead, God has already punished him!

Steve Z on July 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

A priest must obey the laws of God, not of man. If he is sentenced to jail, so be it.
Kuffar on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Yes. I expect he will be either not forced to testify or put in jail.

cptacek on July 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Steve Z on July 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

didn’t confessional change to face to face a number of years ago?
not catholic so I may be remembering wrong.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Ah, the game of “What If.”

My kids play it a lot.

CurtZHP on July 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

This is nothing less than full-out war against Christianity, and the Catholic church specifically. This is an attack on religious freedom. Expect to see priests imprisoned, and later, worse.

SailorMark on July 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Regardless, though, assuming this is a priest who is faithful to his vows, he won’t reveal anything anyway. A priest must be willing to suffer any penalty, up to and including loss of his own life, before he would dare to violate the seal of the confessional. And he must answer to God Almighty if he chooses otherwise. I feel confident that the seal of the confessional will remain intact, one way or another, in this case.

Shump on July 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Any judge that would imprison a Priest for sticking to his vows deserves to be tarred and feathered.

ConstantineXI on July 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Update: A fair question from the comments asks a hypothetical about a priest who learns in confession about an upcoming commission of a crime. Note that this is not exactly what happened in Louisiana, but it’s still a fair hypothetical. Cathy Caridi, a canon lawyer at Catholic Exchange, explains that while a priest has some options to warn the intended victims, he still cannot reveal what was said in confession:

Isn’t the point of confession to admit to past sins and seek forgiveness in order to lead a better life? In which case “confessing” to future sins is not confession, and there is no privilege.

Doctors, including psychiatrists and lawyers are not supposed to alert authorities about past crimes, but if there’s a future one they are permitted to do so. It’s why the Aurora, Colorado killer’s psychiatrist went to the police: he was announcing a plan to shoot up a movie theater.

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

The concept of equal protection under the laws is not applied to non-Catholics who seek confidentiality with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

False. The ministerial exemption applies across the board. It’s up to the governing body of each denomination what else happens to a minister outside of the law. A Catholic priest being excommunicated is solely the responsibility of the Vatican.

rbj on July 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM

didn’t confessional change to face to face a number of years ago?
not catholic so I may be remembering wrong.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Face to face is an option. You can do it via the anonymous screen or face to face, it’s your choice.

ConstantineXI on July 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM

In a confessional, a penitent and the priest are on opposite sides of a wall, and talk to each other through a screen. The priest and the girl may not have seen each other to identify each other. How can the girl be sure that the priest she confessed to was Bayhi?

It is possible to confess to a priest face to face. Some parishes I have gone to provide that option.

The duty of a priest in a confessional is to offer God’s absolution to the penitent for sins the penitent admits to having committed. If the “inappropriate sexual relations” were forced on the girl by the man, she committed no sin and the priest could give her absolution.

Well, kind of. Even if she had sinned, the priest would give her absolution. That is the point of going to confession.

The priest has no obligation to report the sexual abuse to the police, since he has no way of knowing whether the girl told the truth, although the girl could have reported the abuse to the police or to her parents, who could have then called the police.

Do you think many people have the habit of lying when confessing to a priest? That’s kind of not the point at all.

The priest should simply state that he does not remember the confession, and was not told the name of the alleged sexual abuser.

What if he does remember? You want him to lie about it? No, he should not be forced to say anything at all about a confession or if there was no confession.

cptacek on July 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM

it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent

Sorry, Ed, but do you see that word “betray” in there? If the penitent has already spoken out about the content of the confession, then there is no betrayal.

I think the priest is either being intentionally obtuse about the issue here, or he is hiding something else that has not come out in the open. The priest here should be able to come out and confirm or deny what the girl has already spoken openly about.

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM

The priest and the girl may not have seen each other to identify each other. How can the girl be sure that the priest she confessed to was Bayhi?

Steve Z on July 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

If she was a regular parishioner at the church, she might have recognized his voice.

J.S.K. on July 8, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Non-Catholics do not enjoy this “right” when counseling with their clergy.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

That is absolutely untrue.

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Toocon, the priest-penitent privilege applies to all spiritual advisors, not just priests.

Now, there are boundaries to other kinds of privilege (attorney-client, spousal, doctor-patient), so an argument can be made that there should be some here, too, but personally, I think the concept of the 1A supports providing a very broad protection to communication of this nature.

DisneyFan on July 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

I’m Protestant and I’d tell the government to go Fluke itself. The priest has a duty to keep the confession private and should just pull a leftist Democrat trope about not remembering.

If the prosecution’s case is that weak, perhaps a little vigilante justice would be more appropriate.

njrob on July 8, 2014 at 10:44 AM

the thing that gets me is the court is trying to force a third party to tell them what a second party told him about a first party.
The girl “confessed” that a now deceased person did something to her in the past, how can what she said to another person be proof of anything that first person did?
Isn’t this awful close to a hearsay issue?
And since that first person is dead there’s no “justice” to be gained here, something smells here.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Sorry, Ed, but do you see that word “betray” in there? If the penitent has already spoken out about the content of the confession, then there is no betrayal.

I think the priest is either being intentionally obtuse about the issue here, or he is hiding something else that has not come out in the open. The priest here should be able to come out and confirm or deny what the girl has already spoken openly about.

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 10:40 AM

The priest is only following Catholic doctrine, which expressly prohibits any Catholic clergy from disclosing anything said during confession. Period. The priest isn’t being “intentionally obtuse” about anything, but you are about RC doctrine.

When someone confesses a crime during the sacrament of confession (to show how important confession is to The Church) it is absolutely betrayal for that priest to divulge anything said. Confession is between you and the priest and Christ. And no one else.

JetBoy on July 8, 2014 at 10:49 AM

It’s just that the institute sacrament of confession only exists in Catholicism.

Rix on July 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

FIFY

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 10:51 AM

And since that first person is dead there’s no “justice” to be gained here, something smells here.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Money. It is a civil suit.

cptacek on July 8, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Strikes me similar to Alfred Hitchcok’s “I Confess” – great movie if you haven’t seen it.

miConsevative on July 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

And since that first person is dead there’s no “justice” to be gained here, something smells here.

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

We’re probably looking at a whacko activist judge who thinks this is his chance to strike a blow against an institution he dislikes.

Doomberg on July 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

What if that priest had someone come I to his booth and confessed that he had bomb wired to explode in the next hour at a federal building down the street? What law should he obey?

coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

God’s law.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

What on earth?!? If Hobby Lobby wasn’t a first Amendment then which Amendment did Scalito’s decision turn on?

libfreeordie on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Isn’t this awful close to a hearsay issue?

dmacleo on July 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Ironically, it’s the seriousness of confession that lends it more authority in a courtroom than mere hearsay.

The priest is only following Catholic doctrine, which expressly prohibits any Catholic clergy from disclosing anything said during confession. Period.

JetBoy on July 8, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Please go re-read what Ed posted directly from Canon Law about confession (emphasis added):

Can. 983 states that “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.”

If the penitent has spoken publicly about the issue/incident, then there is no betrayal in confirming or refuting that public statement. Period. It doesn’t say that they can’t disclose the information. It says they cannot betray the penitent. (Admittedly, I’m no Canon Lawyer – but neither is Ed, nor you.)

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

The Roman Catholic Church lost my support and sympathy when, not once, but TWICE, their followers voted overwhelmingly, for the greatest baby slaughterer in history. Despite this, however, we cannot allow the state to coerce a cleric to divulge confidential confessional information of this nature.

If this is allowed to stand, all confessionals, should have a taped caveat: “YOU HAVE TO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. ANYTHING YOU SAY IN THIS CONFESSIONAL CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IN A COURT OF LAW.”

MaiDee on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM


This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

How about Orthodox Christians?

freedomfirst on July 8, 2014 at 11:04 AM

While the spousal privilege, in most cases, is unlimited because the protection is placed for the accused, not the spouse, the penitent-priest, attorney-client, and doctor-patient privileges are limited, but still broad. Generally, all private conversations, medical records, and attorney work-product are privileged. The one main exception is to where public safety may be at risk for FUTURE acts. As an example, if a penitent told her priest or a patient informed his psychiatrist that s/he was going to murder someone or blow up a building, then the professional would be required to disclose the statements — and, in most states, there exists a duty to warn.

In Trammel v United States, 445 U.S. 40 (1980), which involved the spousal privilege, the United States Supreme Court, nevertheless, stated:

‘The priest-penitent privilege recognizes the human need to disclose to a spiritual counselor, in total and absolute confidence, what are believed to be flawed acts or thoughts and to receive priestly consolation and guidance in return.’

In the hornbook, Evidence: Cases, Materials, and Problems, by Paul F Rothstein, Myrna S Raeder, and David Crump, which is often cited, the authors noted Trammel and further explained:

‘The privileges between priest and penitent, attorney and client, and physician and patient limit protection to private communications. These privileges are rooted in the imperative need for confidence and trust. The penitent privilege recognises the human need to disclose to a spiritual counselor, in total and absolute confidence, what are believed to be flawed acts or thoughts and to receive priestly consolation and guidance in return. The lawyer-client privilege rests on the need for the advocate and counselor to know all that relates to the client’s reasons for seeking representation if the professional mission is to be carried out. Similarly, the physician must know all that a patient can articulate in order to identify and to treat disease; barriers to full disclosure would impair diagnosis and treatment.’

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Just say your hard drive crashed.

rogerb on July 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

What on earth?!? If Hobby Lobby wasn’t a first Amendment then which Amendment did Scalito’s decision turn on?

libfreeordie on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Many observers misunderstood the Hobby Lobby dispute and others like it as a First Amendment case, but it wasn’t. It primarily related to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),

Could you at least bother to read the posts?

rbj on July 8, 2014 at 11:05 AM

When the Church went to “face-to-face” confession (Reconciliation), the number of people going dropped like a rock. Going back to anonymous confessionals would solve this problem since the priest couldn’t testify since he wouldn’t know who said it.

seven_of_8 on July 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

You always have the option of having your confession heard face-to-face, or behind a screen of some kind. Older churches will usually have the setup where the priest enters through one door and the penitent through another door, with a wall and a screened window between them (this is usually what is portrayed in movies and TV shows), while newer churches will have a room with a portable screen, with a kneeler on one side for the penitent.

Ward Cleaver on July 8, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Did the preist ever read the confession in the newspaper?

Sven on July 8, 2014 at 11:09 AM

We’re probably looking at a whacko activist judge who thinks this is his chance to strike a blow against an institution he dislikes.

Doomberg on July 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Ummm, one obeying the law of Louisiana? Try reading all that Ed posted, and for comprehension this time.

libfreeordie on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

RFRA. You tryin to provide more evidence as proof for Ed’s weekend smackdown?

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 11:10 AM

We are talking, after all, about the state that gave us Huey Long, Ray Nagin, and Edwin Edwards, so something like this isn’t a total surprise.

But one of the things you don’t mess with in this world is The One True Church (another being God’s Chosen People). I hope those guys in Baton Rouge can tread water.

formwiz on July 8, 2014 at 11:10 AM

What on earth?!? If Hobby Lobby wasn’t a first Amendment then which Amendment did Scalito’s decision turn on?

libfreeordie on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

The Court’s ruling was based upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was unanimously passed by the Democratic-controlled House, passed the Democratic-controlled Senate 97-3 (Jesse Helms was one of the nay votes), and signed into law by Democrat, President Bill Clinton.

Since you brought up Scalia, you should be aware of the following:

It was Scalia’s opinion for the majority in Employment Division v Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), which held that the law, when applied to the population at large, could not sustain carve-outs for religious reasons. And, this pizzed off a whole lot of people, especially those on the Left.

Why?

Because Manifest Destiny, racism, and genocide against Native Americans or something. Oh, and drugs!!!

You see, Mr Smith was a Native American, who smoked peyote as part of his ‘religious’ rites, but he wanted unemployment insurance and the State of Oregon had a law that prohibited the payment of such benefits to individuals that smoked the illegal drug. Well, we couldn’t have that. I mean, shit, we gave them smallpox and took their land. Soooo, Democrats, especially, led the charge up Religious Freedom Restoration Act hill.

Later, the Supreme Court ruled that a city in Florida couldn’t prohibit the ritual slaughter of chickens by practitioners of Santería. See: Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993).

And, the Court, again relying on RFRA, held that the Federal government failed to prove a compelling interest (strict scrutiny applies in cases that infringe upon Constitutional rights) in seizing the Schedule I tea that was used for sacraments by members of a New Mexican branch of the Brazilian church União do Vegetal. See: Gonzales v O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006).

Instead of this being a decision by ‘activist judges,’ the Court was actually relying on legislation overwhelmingly supported and driven by Democrats. If Democrats hadn’t pushed for the RFRA and let Scalia’s opinion in Smith stand, the Obama administration may very well have prevailed [in Hobby Lobby].

Call it Scalia’s Scimitar or something. He warned you. You didn’t listen. And, he, along with Justices Kennedy, Alito, Roberts, and Thomas, used Democrats’ own law to hack off their heads.

Amusing really.

Mr Progressive, I understand that you know your hoist, but please allow me to introduce you to Monsieur Petard.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:10 AM

What on earth?!? If Hobby Lobby wasn’t a first Amendment then which Amendment did Scalito’s decision turn on?

libfreeordie on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

What on Earth?? Brainfree looking idiotic once again??? Girl, is there no one stupider????

I wonder, did you even finish reading the rest of the first sentence? I doubt it.

Translation: I only read the headlines before commenting. That comes as no surprise to the rest of us.

Ed Morrissey on June 18, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Be being ignorant of the legal reasoning behind Hobby Lobby before even reading only the first part of the first sentence of Ed’s post also proves just how obnoxiously ignorant you are.

Here’s a simple question for you. Which of the founding fathers did not subscribe to the communitarian ethos Calhoun deploys to rationalize slavery? *sets sundial*

libfreeordie on August 21, 2013 at 9:30 AM

None. They weren’t nascent Commies like John C. Calhoun, and full blown Commies like you. Don’t you think you need to provide some proof for such a ridiculous smear there Mr. Calhoun? You’re a history perfesser, right?

NotCoach on August 21, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Oh dear God….hold on, give me 10 minutes.

libfreeordie on August 21, 2013 at 9:45 AM

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM

The Roman Catholic Church lost my support and sympathy when, not once, but TWICE, their followers voted overwhelmingly, for the greatest baby slaughterer in history. Despite this, however, we cannot allow the state to coerce a cleric to divulge confidential confessional information of this nature.

If this is allowed to stand, all confessionals, should have a taped caveat: “YOU HAVE TO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. ANYTHING YOU SAY IN THIS CONFESSIONAL CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IN A COURT OF LAW.”

MaiDee on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Many Catholics were poorly catechized during the 1970s and 1980s, and others choose to ignore or disregard the teachings of the Church. This does make the Church as a whole pro-abortion.

You wouldn’t throw out the presidential system because Obama is a terrible president, would you?

Ward Cleaver on July 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Sigh. More judicial activism/war on religion from that liberal bastion of Louisiana.

BoehnerTears on July 8, 2014 at 11:14 AM

As an example, if a penitent told her priest or a patient informed his psychiatrist that s/he was going to murder someone or blow up a building, then the professional would be required to disclose the statements — and, in most states, there exists a duty to warn.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:04 AM

But a priest is liable to ignore such legal technicalities. I would expect most men of the cloth to consider their immortal souls more important than their mortal peril.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 11:15 AM

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Bullshit. While there is no Federal law setting forth the requirements that must be met to qualify for the penitent-priest privilege, all states require that each be met:

1. It must be a communication.

2. It must be made in confidence.

3. It must be made to a pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, or other religious leader.

4. The religious leader must be acting in his or her professional capacity as a spiritual adviser.

In some states, a fifth requirement has been added. In these jurisdictions, in addition to requiring that each of the above four be met, the communication must be delivered ‘in the course of discipline.’

The privilege is in no way, shape, or form limited to Christians.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:16 AM

The privilege is in no way, shape, or form limited to Christians.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Or exclusively Catholics as Tooconstipated claimed.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 11:19 AM

What on earth?!? If Hobby Lobby wasn’t a first Amendment then which Amendment did Scalito’s decision turn on?

libfreeordie on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

who?

ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch on July 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

This is a “right” that is enjoyed by only one denomination of Christianity.

Toocon on July 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

It is enjoyed by any faith that has the sacrament of reconciliation. Counseling isn’t held sacred by those without it.

Our first right in the Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. I’m for freedom. You?

theCork on July 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

But a priest is liable to ignore such legal technicalities. I would expect most men of the cloth to consider their immortal souls more important than their mortal peril.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 11:15 AM

That would be their decision and, of course, there would be consequences involved.

I would ask if there is a difference between confessing a sin that has been committed and one that has yet to take place.

Yes, I realise that Christianity – or, at least, most sects – holds that ‘lusting in one’s heart,’ for example, is a sin even though actual adultery doesn’t occur. But, is the an intention a sin, if it is never carried out? In other words, is there a principle that makes it a sin to ‘desire to kill someone’ even if you never do?

I honestly don’t know, which is why I’m asking.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

St Mateo Correa Magallanes was martyred because he would not break the seal of the confessional to the Mexican govenment in 1927.

talking_mouse on July 8, 2014 at 11:22 AM

If the penitent has spoken publicly about the issue/incident, then there is no betrayal in confirming or refuting that public statement. Period. It doesn’t say that they can’t disclose the information. It says they cannot betray the penitent. (Admittedly, I’m no Canon Lawyer – but neither is Ed, nor you.)

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

How about this part: The sacramental seal is inviolable;

It cannot be violated by the priest, no matter what the other person does or says. The priest’s actions are not dependent on what the confessing party does.

cptacek on July 8, 2014 at 11:22 AM

The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that a priest must testify in a case about what he heard in a confessional…

SERIOUSLY?!

Our government is OUT OF CONTROL! ‘War on Religion’, anyone?

easyt65 on July 8, 2014 at 11:24 AM

This confessional Lutheran pastor stands squarely with the priest and the Roman canon law in this matter.

There is no revealing of what is confessed. No exceptions. End of conversation. Let the courts rant and rave. Let hellfire threaten us all. The seal is absolute.

Scribbler on July 8, 2014 at 11:25 AM

The hypotheticals all involve murder or rape or other “serious” crimes. But let’s flip it around and say that Johnny confesses he is going to steal Bobby’s bike tomorrow. Should the priest then go tell Bobby that Johnny is going to steal his bike? Or tell Bobby’s parents or the cops? If a priest is required to report one crime or potential crime, he is obligated to report it all. This slippery slope is why the privilege of the confessional should remain absolute. Otherwise you let in the gray area of personal judgment as to what crimes are “serious” enough to be reported.

SLMeyer on July 8, 2014 at 11:27 AM

You’ve got to be kidding me. I can understand the Catholic church excommunicating a priest for violating the sanctity of the confessional. That is the church’s prerogative. But to dogmatically declare that a priest is damned for all eternity? Highly doubtful. I would like to see the scripture reference for that.

HiJack on July 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM

As a non-Catholic I would hope this Priest stands his grounds regardless of the consequences. As for future or on going issues it seems there are cases of this being handled properly too.

I personally know of a case in which police received a phone call from a priest, warning them that two teenaged sisters were in danger at that very moment. The police understood that the priest was not permitted to give them more specific information,

It seems to me this covers it very well. Not to mention there are anonymous tip lines. The authorities shouldn’t need to have their hands held.

CW20 on July 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

GWB on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

I think you are using a different definition of betrayal. The preist cannot say anything whatsoever about what was said in the confessional unless he was told the same thing by that person in a non confessional situation. Betray is being used as in betraying the contents of the confession by making it known outside of the confessional.

Zomcon JEM on July 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Was getting ready to smack the HA slave but RWM and NotCoach made pulp out of it.

God, you are an easy target, you self-absorbed dummy.

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Orthodox Christians also have the sacrament of Confession. It’s done somewhat different than in Roman Catholic Churches, as there generally is no anonymity and the priest stands right next to the person confessing.

Confession in the Orthodox Church

However, confession in Greek Orthodox Churches is rare because hundreds of years ago, there was a government that made the bishops responsible for any sins (crimes) that they or the priests learned about through Confession. Therefore, in order to keep the bishops out of prison, confession became an almost non-existent practice.

Just goes to show you that governments will never leave the sacrament of confession alone. After all, if you need total control, nothing may remain hidden.

Katja on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Choosing to obey God over a wacko judge is a no-brainer.

The Earthly courts only have me for another 40 years or so. God has me forever.

ConstantineXI on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

What if that priest had someone come I to his booth and confessed that he had bomb wired to explode in the next hour at a federal building down the street? What law should he obey?

coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

God’s law.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

I just spoke to God and he just called b.s. God says he would rather the people in that building live. And he says hello.

coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

But, is the an intention a sin, if it is never carried out? In other words, is there a principle that makes it a sin to ‘desire to kill someone’ even if you never do?

I honestly don’t know, which is why I’m asking.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

Just like in criminal law there are more serious acts than others, but what resides in our hearts is just as important to our salvation as what acts we commit.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 11:35 AM

I just spoke to God and he just called b.s. God says he would rather the people in that building live. And he says hello.

coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

And I think your a blasphemous pig with little or no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Say hello to Satan for us.

NotCoach on July 8, 2014 at 11:36 AM

The Roman Catholic Church lost my support and sympathy when, not once, but TWICE, their followers voted overwhelmingly, for the greatest baby slaughterer in history.

MaiDee on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Have you ever been to the March for Life in DC? I’m guessing not or you would see that Catholics outnumber other denominations 10 to 1 – and there are hundreds of thousands there (and that is not hyperbole).

Agreed that there are plenty of ‘not good’ Catholics who don’t follow Church teaching, but you should judge an institution by those who follow its rules, not those who ignore it. It’s like saying you don’t support the 10 commandments because there are Christians who don’t follow them. It’s absurd.

miConsevative on July 8, 2014 at 11:36 AM

The Roman Catholic Church lost my support and sympathy when, not once, but TWICE, their followers voted overwhelmingly, for the greatest baby slaughterer in history.

MaiDee on July 8, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Have you ever been to the March for Life in DC? I’m guessing not or you would see that Catholics outnumber other denominations 10 to 1 – and there are hundreds of thousands there (and that is not hyperbole).

Agreed that there are plenty of ‘not good’ Catholics who don’t follow Church teaching, but you should judge an institution by those who follow its rules, not those who ignore it. It’s like saying you don’t support the 10 commandments because there are Christians who don’t follow them. It’s absurd.

miConsevative on July 8, 2014 at 11:36 AM

It seems to me this covers it very well. Not to mention there are anonymous tip lines. The authorities shouldn’t need to have their hands held.

CW20 on July 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Law enforcement is just as lazy and corrupt as the rest of government these days.

Which is why they storm homes at 3AM rather than properly serve warrants, why they wiretap cell phones without warrants, and why they draw blood at checkpoints, amongst other crimes against the Republic.

ConstantineXI on July 8, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Slave, this is exclusively for your eyes. Look at all the Ds who voted for it, before Bill Clinton signed it (97/3).

The only Nays were:

NAYs —3
Byrd (D-WV) – former KKK, and dead
Helms (R-NC) – your favorite whipping horse, and dead
Mathews (D-TN) – dead

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 11:37 AM

I just spoke to God and he just called b.s. God says he would rather the people in that building live. And he says hello.

coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

God gave you brains to multi-thread. It ain’t hard.

Try to discuss such earnest things in a mature way and you’ll find reciprocity. There are a variety of venues to help those people live.

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Ward Cleaver on July 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM

I am actually encouraged by Pope Francis’ rhetoric here. For why the leftist catholics and political types run to his talkings about outreach – they fail to note that he has been pretty much straight down the line –

Abortion is wrong. Same sex marriage is wrong. There will be no female priests. Etc.

In 2012 for the first time I saw a formal outreach by the church to advise their members about voting for pro-abortion candidates. It will take some time for the extended flock to understand that being OK with some things is no longer OK. My guess is that in the vibrant growing dioceses and parishes a very strong pro-life attitude is prevalent.

Zomcon JEM on July 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Considering the fact that I’m now convinced that the whole Catholic Church is basically a Marxist-leaning institution – one that has NEVER risked anything to protect MY rights and one that has, for the last 100 years or so – advocated socialism and nationalized healthcare, MUCH to the chagrin OF MY RIGHTS and MY POCKETBOOK …

I’m just not gonna work up a sweat on this issue.

The RCC is on its own here. Have fun with the “monster” you helped to create.

HondaV65 on July 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM

But, is the an intention a sin, if it is never carried out? In other words, is there a principle that makes it a sin to ‘desire to kill someone’ even if you never do?

I honestly don’t know, which is why I’m asking.

Resist We Much on July 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

If our thoughts w/b read we’d all be executed.

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Ticking Bomb Scenario:
Priest walks out of the confessional after hearing that the so-called penitent WILL commit murder and … wait for it … kills the so-called penitent.

By the way, every bit of this stuff is Catholic. No other Christian faith finds itself bound up with these situations, both hypothetical and real.

Just so you know.

chuckh on July 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

I just spoke to God and he just called b.s. God says he would rather the people in that building live. And he says hello.
 
coolrepublica on July 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM

 
Did he give you a specific womb number, or was it all of them?

rogerb on July 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Just so you know.

chuckh on July 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Do you feel better now?

Schadenfreude on July 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM

A priest must obey the laws of God, not of man. If he is sentenced to jail, so be it. Any priest that voilates that law is not a priest.

Any priest that divulges anything that is said in confession is no better than a pedophile priest and should be treated as such.

Kuffar on July 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

The laws regarding priests and the confessional are laws of man.

You won’t find either in Scripture.

Bigbullets on July 8, 2014 at 11:48 AM

You won’t find either in Scripture.

Bigbullets on July 8, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Nor will you find the concept of sola scriptura (scripture alone as the sole source of God’s revelation)…heh.

miConsevative on July 8, 2014 at 11:52 AM

This is great evidence that the Devil is alive and at work in our society. In my opinion if the Law wanted to work with the Priest it could without causing the Priest to betray his oath, but that is not what this is all about. It is about the (D) in Devil, which is evil trying to set a trap for God.

It also tells me what the (D) in Democrat stands for in this society.

How foolish this generation is . . . it goes out of its way to stick its finger in God’s eye.

Nat George on July 8, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Well, in the 20th Century the Soviets found out how many divisions the Pope has. I guess it’s the Louisiana Supreme Court’s turn now. How long has it been since the Vatican imposed an interdict, anyway?

PersonFromPorlock on July 8, 2014 at 11:56 AM

“What if that priest had someone come I to his booth and confessed that he had bomb wired to explode in the next hour at a federal building down the street? What law should he obey?”

I’m a Protestant, but if I were a priest I would quickly pick up the phone, call the police , and say “There is a bomb in the building and you must get the people out.”

I would not say who did it, of course. That would violate the seal. Nor would I say how I knew. But I DO know that people are in danger , and I can tell the police about the danger, I think, without breaking the seal.

If the police came by and asked “Did you hear anything in the confessional?” I would say “I can’t answer that.” And if they asked, “Well, do you know who did it?” I would say “Maybe you should ask me who , in my opinion, would be likely to do such a thing?” Then, when they asked me my OPINION, I would give the man’s name. My opinion isn’t under seal. How I arrived at that opinion is.

Then the police can follow the man and build a case against him with physical evidence and witnesses. If he’s fool enough to confess to a murder plot in the confessional I doubt he’s careful enough to hide all traces.They will keep an eye on him until they have enough case from circumstantial evidence to put him away, all without violating the seal.

I’m only a Protestant, after all, and I believe the right to confessional should be protected. But if I can’t find ways to save the innocent from those who would harm them , then I need some courses in deviousness 101.

It might be wise, therefore, for a police department who deals with a Catholic population to have someone on staff who is expert in canon law and is able to extract information from cooperating priests WITHOUT violating the seal. I’m sure there are all kinds of protocols and ways of getting information without violating the letter of the law.

pendell2 on July 8, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Kwinky dink…

Anglicans in Australia abandon seal of confession for serious crimes

Anglican leaders in Australia have unanimously approved a proposal to abandon the confessional seal, authorizing priests to disclose information about serious crimes such as sexual abuse.

The General Synod in Australia, meeting on July 2, passed an amendment to the Anglican canon on confessional secrecy. The change must now be approved by individual dioceses, but Anglican leaders said that they would press for that approval.

The confessional seal has been a subject of tense political debate in Australia, with Catholic Church leaders insisting that it is inviolable. Their Anglican counterparts approved a proposal that would allow priests to disclose sins if they involved criminal offenses that would carry a penalty of more than five years’ imprisonment, and the penitent had not already confessed to police….

That said, pressure will now be turned up on Catholics to do the same. – Father Z ”

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2014/07/australian-anglicans-abandon-their-seal-of-confession-trouble-to-follow/

workingclass artist on July 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM

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