US RC Diocese asks Supreme Court to reverse decision compelling priest to break confessional seal

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.

Read it all.


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One comment on “US RC Diocese asks Supreme Court to reverse decision compelling priest to break confessional seal

  1. Jon R says:

    If the penitent comes to you as a Priest for confession, there is an implicit understand, that they know they have sinned. If they refuse to make restitution then there is no obligation to grant absolution. The seal of the confession has never been absolute in Anglicanism. Anglican Clergy have always been obliged to denounce traitors to the crown, and any other offence which might impute the penalty of death to them as an accomplice.

    I argued this a couple of years ago at a meeting of diocesean clergy (most of who had not even read the thirty nine articles, never mind the canons of sixteen sixty two. They mistakenly though they were all Catholic clergy!) and lo and behold, we have now at our national synod this year a canon to force you to denounce child abusers, because of course the church has finally realised its responsibility, and liability.

    One of those who doubted me has now been made an assistant bishop and is very proud of being a third order franciscan. An order set up for the catholic laity. The order he has joined does not recognise his ordination as Priest, never mind being a bishop in the church of God. I really do despair.