Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/10/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Priest called to testify in abuse case.

The Louisiana Supreme Court is seeking to compel a Catholic priest to violate the confessional privilege under the state's mandated reporting laws. Under Canon Law, priests are prohibited from disclosing what is discussed in the confessional.

The seal of the sacrament of confession cannot be violated.

The seal of the sacrament of confession cannot be violated.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

7/10/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Priest, confession, abuse, seal, louisiana, supreme court

BATON ROUGE, LA (Catholic Online) - The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge is criticizing a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court which seeks to require a priest to break the seal of confession and testify to what he was told by a penitent during the sacrament of confession.

This order would violate Canon Law, the law of the Church, which requires that a priest never disclose what is revealed to him in the confessional. .

Pray for all victims of abuse and the Church in these times.

A statement released by the Diocese says that Rev. Jeff Bayhi and the Diocese itself are defendants in a case where they are being compelled by the court to say whether they heard a confession and what the contents of that confession were.

The specific case involves an allegation of sexual abuse in which a minor daughter of some parishioners claim that she was subjected to inappropriate sexual conduct (abuse) at the hands of an adult parishioner. The child was 12 at the time the alleged abuse occurred.

According to the local sheriff, an investigation was ongoing when the accused man died in 2009 of a sudden heart attack. Local officials say the Church is required under mandated reporting laws to disclose such information to the authorities. The diocese is also accused of failing to train Father Bayhi to report such incidents.

However the Church teaching is very clear on this subject. The seal of confession is sacred and any priest who breaks that seal excommunicates himself, instantly.

Although the Church has been accused of sheltering child abusers, it has taken a hard line stance under Pope Benedict XVI and even harder under Francis. However, these reforms which target clergy who participate in cover-ups, do not change the sacred seal of confession which remains at the core of the Catholic understanding of the Confessional seal.

What is happening is that a civil court is infringing on the religious freedom of the Church..

It is not that the Church wants to protect a deceased man or that the word of the child is disputed. It is that the Church simply cannot comment on whether or not a confession took place and if so, what the details of that confession were. It simply isn't allowed under any circumstances.

"For a civil court to impinge upon the freedom of religion is a clear violation and the matter will be taken to the highest court in the land by the Church in order to protect its free exercise of religion," the statement said.

Unfortunately, while the issue is clear to the Church, it is not clear to the lawyers and judges. A reputation of concealing sexual abuse within the Church has created an attitude of mistrust and  hostility towards priests and anyone in the Church who is seen as trying to cover for a crime.

Worse, specific testimony by the child claims that Father Bayhi told the girl to resolve the matter herself because otherwise "too many people would be hurt."

The child allegedly told Father Bayhi that the man had emailed her excessively and asked to "make love to her." Eventually he touched and kissed her inappropriately.

An appeals court originally ruled that confessions are privileged communications and that mandated reporting does not apply in the confessional, but the state supreme court ruled that confidentiality can only be claimed on behalf of the confessor.

In this case the girl testified to what she said, thus waiving her right to confidentiality. In other words, confidentiality does not apply because the girl told the court in deposition what happened in the confessional.

Whether or not Father Bayhi gave poor advice to a hurting child who was a victim of abuse is a separate matter. Certainly, if he failed in his ministry to protect a child whom he knew was subject to abuse then he should answer for this before God and the Church.

However, the seal of the sacrament of confession is not up for debate or discussion. Supreme courts have jurisdiction over men but they have no jurisdiction over God's law, which is not subject to their review no matter how hard they try.

Fr. Bayhi may not disclose the content of a confession under penalty of excommunication. Nor should he be forced to. The precedent this would establish is far too serious to permit exception.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More U.S.

What it was like to fly Pope Francis around America: American Airlines crew speaks out Watch

Image of The Pope blessed the crew, their families, and the plane during his tour.


Pope Francis' American Airlines flight crew has opened up about the spiritual experience, claiming the papal meeting was "like seeing God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pilot George Griffin, his co-pilots and 15 cabin crew members were picked from a pool of ... continue reading

New ISIS video features a 'cub of the caliphate' directly threaten US President Barack Obama Watch

Image of A young ISIS member delivers a threat to US President Barack Obama (YouTube).


A young ISIS jihadi was featured in an ISIS video dressed in army fatigues and holding a rocket launcher as he  delivered a threat to US President Barack Obama. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A young boy who looks to be no more than 10-years-old was recorded ... continue reading

Did Clinton hide the discovery of the Khobar Towers bombers? Watch

Image of Former US President Bill Clinton (Brothersoft)


In order to reestablish diplomatic ties with Tehran, former U.S. President Bill Clinton hid the discovery of Iran's involvement of the Khobar Towers bombing which killed 19 U.S. servicemen in 1996. The allegations are not new, but in a recent report, heavy evidence ... continue reading

Terrorists can easily enter the U.S. through Texas/Mexico border Watch

Image of


Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, warned the U.S. was vulnerable in terms of infiltration through the country's southern border. McCraw reported some people coming from countries flagged to have "terrorism presence."  LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

STUDY: Arabic, Urdu the fastest growing secondary languages in the United States Watch

Image of The most recent census study shows that the fastest-growing foreign languages are languages spoken by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.


The Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey reports that between 2010 and 2014, there was a 29 percent increase in Arabic spoken in the United States. There is also a 23 percent increase in Urdu, and a nine percent jump in Persian, the language spoken in ... continue reading

California mother punched in the face by police files lawsuit Watch

Image of The police officer allegedly pulled over Cindy Hahn moments later on an alleged seat belt violation and arrested Hahn as her children watched.


The one sure thing about cell phone technology is that authority figures will not be able to slip easily from the law. A 40-year-old mother is suing the city of Carlsbad, California after being physically assaulted by police officers in July of 2013. It was all ... continue reading

Cargo ship missing after sailing into Hurricane Joaquin Watch

Image of Katie and Keith Griffin (Facebook).


El Faro, a cargo ship, was caught in Hurricane Joaquin, leaving several American crew members missing. Worried friends and family of the missing staff members continue to hope for survivors. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The US Coast Guard announced that they ... continue reading

Oregon shooting hero still in recovery: Donations for his medical expenses surpass $700,000 Watch

Image of Chris Mintz.


Chris Mintz left a happy birthday message for his nonverbal autistic son on Thursday before going to his classes at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Later, he reportedly set off fire alarms as a gunman opened fire. Mintz charged the shooter, was ... continue reading

Two farmers in Michigan unearth woolly mammoth remains Watch

Image of Because of the tight harvest schedule, the farmers gave researchers a single day to unearth the find. Excavators worked intently last week until sundown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two farmers in Michigan made a momentous find while they dug a drainage ditch. The remains of a woolly mammoth, enormous tusks intact, was unearthed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - James Bristle of Lima Township was digging in a soybean field early last week ... continue reading

President Obama shares how Pope Francis's visit to the U.S. makes him want to be better Watch

Image of President Obama with Pope Francis during the pontiffs visit to the U.S.


It has been a week since Pope Francis' historical visit to the U.S. However, his presence and inspiration continues to linger as President Obama revealed he wants to become better after his meeting with the Pope. WASHINGTON D.C. (Catholic Online) - The pope is back in ... continue reading

All U.S. News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2
13 Priests, put on sackcloth and lament! You ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 9:2-3, 6, 16, 8-9
6 the enemy is wiped out -- mere ruins for ever -- ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:15-26
15 But some of them said, 'It is through Beelzebul, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 9th, 2015 Image

Sts. Denis, Rusticus, and Eleutherius
October 9: The first mention we have of these three martyrs who died around ... Read More