Louisiana Supreme Court orders priest to violate seal of Confession
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/10/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
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.
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. .
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.
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2017
Comfort for the Afflicted. That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.
Susan Creamer, a teacher at Marritt Brown Middle School in Panama City, FL, is under investigation for taking to the internet to complain ... continue reading
First Lady Melania Trump has come under harsh criticism following a recitation of "The Lord's Prayer" during a rally in Melbourne, Florida. ... continue reading
Previously drought-stricken California has received so much water, entire cities are flooding and thousands have lost their homes. LOS ... continue reading
Vickie Williams-Tillman was on her way to the grocery store when she witnessed an officer arguing with a man standing outside his vehicle ... continue reading
Over 150 gravestones were vandalized at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, MO. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Daily Readings for Friday, February 24, 2017
- Atheist teacher accuses Christian students of harassment for inviting ...
- Why are there more Muslims than Christians in Britain's religious ...
- St. John Theristus: Saint of the Day for Friday, February 24, 2017
- Trump dumps Obama's transgender restroom policy HD Video
- Urgent action necessary for 5.5 million people starving in South ...
- London's famed 'actors' church' reveals marvelously beautiful new ...
- Daily Reading for Saturday, February 25th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, February 24th, 2017 HD
- Scientists predict Biblical flood for California HD
- New pilgrimage route recreates Jesus' footsteps HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.