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This is a bit of an unusual thing to create a thread about in this forum, but I am interested in what you think. I have already created this thread on another more left-leaning forum called nationstates.

So if you don't know, the Catholic Confessional Seal is essentially says that Catholic priests are not allowed to disclose any information given to them during confession by the confessor. This includes whether he did or did not commit a crime, like murder. As you can imagine, this is to encourage people who have commited "Mortal Sins"- Horrible sins that can send you to hell unless you repent in confession - to come to confession and repent.

So now a Louisiana court is attempting to force the priest to disclose information about a child molestation, which he can't do because of the Seal. If he does disclose the info, in all likelyhood he'll be excommunicated or stripped of his priesthood at the very least. If he doesn't, he'll be sent to jail. (Unless the Diocese actually does take the case to the Supreme Court, as they've been threatening to) As a Catholic, I think it would be a massive breach of religious freedom to force the priest to do this, but I'm interested in what you think.

(Due to my low post count, I can't post the links to the stories, just google it)
 

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I vote for Freedom of Religion
 
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I do believe in freedom of religion, but I also do not think that religion should be above the law. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't not making priests testify about what they heard therefore be making them above the typical laws? (I'm not sure how to word that, so hopefully it made sense.) Even doctors and therapists are required to tell about patients in certain circumstances.

This whole thing is basically a cycle of right and wrong. On one hand, not forcing them to testify can lead to more criminals on the streets, but, on the other hand, forcing them to is a huge violation of freedom of religion.
 
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Unless a non-disclosure agreement was signed before the confession, I don't see any legal reason why he should be exempt from testifying.

Just as with a psychiatrist - there is no legal contract preventing them from disclosing information. The only thing preventing them is the possibility of losing their license/job.

Psychiatrists can be forced by law to disclose information by a court. Any medical professional can, as well.

The priest is not above the law.
 

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A difficult situation for the priest, but I believe he deserves no immunity. He must decide whether prison is worth his faith. Perhaps he would be seen as a martyr, or whatever the equivalent is of someone who endures great suffering for his or her faith but without death.
 

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I dont think they should be compelled to by the government. I do however think that if a priest knows of a upcoming threat to life or sexual/physical wellbeing that he should offer this information in an anonymous way or try to prevent it himself.
 

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The laws with this are really murky. There's case history in various states upholding clergy privilege, but every state is different. The real issue here is that, in the ever-so-popular "think of the children" mentality, most states placed exemptions on the privilege so that they don't apply if a child is involved (making clergy part of the "mandated reporters" group).

This is really a sad case. He's going to be excommunicated or jailed over testifying in a civil suit against the church seeking restitution for not reporting this (the alleged abuser is dead, this isn't even about jailing him). This guy's life is about to be ruined over money.
 

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Unless a non-disclosure agreement was signed before the confession, I don't see any legal reason why he should be exempt from testifying.
when i was 7 or whatever it was and getting prepared for my first confession, it was explicitly named as an explicit and absolute rule: the priest cannot and will not disclose anything that he hears in confession, to anyone. no matter what it might be. it's verbal, to the best of my recollection, but other forms of 'verbal contract' have been found legally binding as well. any priest who is taking confession is explicitly a party to it. no priest takes confession without having gone through their own form of preparation and vows for the doing of it.

Just as with a psychiatrist - there is no legal contract preventing them from disclosing information.
every 'counselling' professional i've ever talked to about anything - up to and including 'anonymous' hotlines - won't even engage in a conversation until they've given you the disclaimer first that there are certain things that are exempt from that privilege of silence. i never followed it up and asked them whether failing to recite it to me and get my recited agreement would render any such testimony legally untouchable, or whether it was just to keep me from slapping a lawsuit on them when they've sic'd the cops onto me.
 

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I dont think they should be compelled to by the government. I do however think that if a priest knows of a upcoming threat to life or sexual/physical wellbeing that he should offer this information in an anonymous way or try to prevent it himself.
iirc, a priest can't ever tell anyone else what he's heard. i think i read tha the can't even refer to it between us, outside the confessional, unless i were to bring it up first.

but he does define the 'penance' you need to pay in order to be absolved of the sin. for a bush-league sinner like me, that was always just x hail marys and quit stealing all the cocktail onions out of the fridge, but he'd be quite capable of telling someone who'd done something much worse that he can't give absolution unless the sinner gives himself up. the idea that catholicism is just a drive-by release from no-matter-what is quite wrong. it's more like a restorative-justice type thing.

or he can refuse absolution outright, if he feels that the sin is so far out of his league that he simply lacks the authority to release the sinner. i'm not sure what happens from there, but i'm pretty sure it was a fact back in the day anyway.
 

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Believe a psychiatrist is ethically speaking not allowed to talk to authorities about past crimes of patients. If he/she does it would be a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. In exceptional circumstances a court could order him to do so though.

I think a psychiatrist IS bound by law however to inform authorities if his/her client admits that he/she is going to commit a crime. But I am not 100% sure about this.

Anyway. The point. For me ethical guidelines for psychiatrists are on the same level as moral guidelines in religion. Thus in exceptional circumstances a priest could be ordered by the court to share information that was disclosed to him in a confession. Imo he's also lawfully obliged to inform authorities if someone confesses that he/she is planning to commit a crime.

Applying these principles to this particular case: priest should testify. Case is serious enough.
 

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It's a two way street. While I do not believe that religious institutions should be granted amnesty from the law for a crime confession, I do respect the right to religious freedom and the right to remain silent (for the Priests). However, I don't believe the Priests should be bound to the church to make decisions, but rather their own willingness to come out about it.
 

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Applying these principles to this particular case: priest should testify. Case is serious enough.
Is it, though? This case isn't about putting the alleged molester behind bars. Dude is dead, he died five years ago. This priest is being compelled to testify and be excommunicated for it in a civil suit against the church because the parents want a payout.
 

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First, I will admit that while I consider myself Christian, I wasn't raised as one so I am still learning many things. I DO think priests should be required to testify in court, especially when it comes to personal crimes (offenses against the person). I know this attacks the seal of confession of the Catholic faith, but morally this is the right thing to do. From a Biblical standpoint there are many verses about obeying "man's law". I understand that the Catholic faith was the first major Christian denomination, but I am not sure why priests should be considered above the law, if they have knowledge of a serious crime or a crime that is about to be committed, this should be reported immediately. I can see how this would affect Catholics and what they might not confess, but what's more important here? They are seeking forgiveness from a priest when they should be seeking forgiveness from God, they should also be punished by law. Again, I am sure I sound ignorant to Catholics (and atheists lol) because like I said before, I have much to learn about the Christian faith and it's rituals/traditions. I have just a basic understanding of Christianity and am far from a Biblical scholar.

On a non-religious standpoint, this is a no-brainer and I am not even sure how this can even be debated it's very obvious that if anyone knows a serious crime has been committed, and that it will surely hurt others then they have the obligation to alert the authorities. If they do not, don't they share a bit of the blame?

Just my opinion...
 

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Is it, though? This case isn't about putting the alleged molester behind bars. Dude is dead, he died five years ago. This priest is being compelled to testify and be excommunicated for it in a civil suit against the church because the parents want a payout.
That's a really good point and makes things a bit more difficult.
 

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it's going to be a hell of a case for the catholic church as an institution though, with all the shit that's already gone down about this kind of thing being protected and covered up.

. . . annnnnd, a little plug for tim minchin again.
 
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