The diocese of Baton Rouge has asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that a priest may be compelled to testify as to what he heard in the confessional in 2008 concerning an abuse case.
The legal step is the latest in a case involving Father Jeffrey Bayhi, pastor of St John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, and the sanctity of the seal of confession.
The petition to the US Supreme Court comes after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in May outlining arguments that priests are subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse of minors if the person who made the confession waives confidentiality. The state Supreme Court opened the door for a hearing in which the priest would testify about what he heard in the confessional.
Under canon law, the seal of confession is sacred under the penalty of excommunication.