Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Penitent May Testify To Her Statements To Priest In Confession

As previously reported, in February a Louisiana trial court held that a plaintiff suing the Catholic Church and a priest can testify that in 2008 she told the priest during confession that she was being abused by a 64-year old parishioner. The Church and the priest appealed, but in a 2-1 decision in Mayeux v. Charlet, (LA App., July 29, 2016) the appeals court affirmed the trial court decision.  However Judge Holdridge dissenting argued:
The statements sought to be excluded were made during the Sacrament of Confession, which is one of the central institutional practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Pursuant to the "seal of confession", a priest is prohibited from revealing anything learned during confession under any circumstance.... The violation of the seal of confession subjects the priest to automatic excommunication.... Accordingly, allowing Plaintiffs to mention, reference, or introduce evidence at trial of the confessions at issue will place an undue burden on Father Bayhi' s right to the free exercise of his religion and violates the constitutional command of separation of church and state. La. Const. art. I, § 8.