Louisiana Court Upholds Seal of Confession

News: Government
by Joe Gallagher  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 2, 2016   

You are not signed in as a Premium user; you are viewing the free version of this program. Premium users have access to full-length programs with limited commercials and receive a 10% discount in the store! Sign up for only one day for the low cost of $1.99. Click the button below.

BATON ROUGE (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Louisiana court is ruling the seal of confession must be respected by state law after Fr. Jeff Bayhi was sued by a woman for not taking action when she confessed she was a victim of sexual abuse.

Allegedly, when she was fourteen, Rebecca Mayeux went to confession to Fr. Bayhi and claimed that she was sexually abused by a parishioner. She asked for his advice on the topic.

According to court records, Mayeux's recalls, "He [Fr. Bayhi] told me to take care of it. So in my own way I took care of it." She and her family filed a lawsuit, but not against the parishioner.

They filed the lawsuit against Fr. Bayhi because he did not take action and did not report what was said in the confessional that day, as the seal of confession forbids clerics from revealing anything mentioned in the confessional.

The seal of confession is regarded as one of the most sacred aspects of Catholic practice. If a priest were to reveal what was said during confession, he would excommunicate himself.

The question arises, "What constitutes the beginning and end of confession?" A confession lasts from when a person says, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…" until the priests says "Go in peace." Anything said between these bookends is bound by the seal.

This means that the priest cannot act on any information he is given. He cannot make judgements on a person based on of his confession; he cannot be forced by law to break the seal, and he cannot bring up the topic to the penitent after the sacrament is concluded.

However, Louisiana mandatory reporter laws state that one must inform authorities of any sexual abuse of children. The mandate, which states that persons are legally bound to report any crime, is in direct opposition to canon law - priests must keep the seal of confession no matter the cost, no exceptions.


Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.

We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on ChurchMilitant.com you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines

Loading Comments