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Priest may face jail over Seal of Confession

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 January, 2015

US Supreme Court refuses to excuse priest from testifying in court case.

Priest-hears-ConfessionCourtesy: Independent Catholic News (http://www.indcatholicnews.com)

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear a petition from a Catholic diocese that is concerned that a civil lawsuit could try to force a priest to violate the Seal of Confession or go to jail.

In the lawsuit, a woman has claimed that when she was a minor in 2008 she told a priest in Confession that someone was abusing her.

As the priest is unable to repeat what he has been told during the sacrament, the priest and his diocese, applied to the court to be excused from testifying.

In a statement the Diocese of Baton Rouge in Louisiana said, “This morning, 20 January 2015, the US Supreme Court denied the Diocese and Father Bayhi’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to review the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court.”

“The Diocese and Fr Bayhi are disappointed that the Court denied our request, at least at this stage, to intervene in this case, which has significant ramifications for religious freedom in Louisiana and beyond.”

“Notwithstanding the Court’s decision not to intervene at this time, the Diocese and Fr Bayhi have a number of options for raising further constitutional challenges in this case, which they are currently evaluating.”

“The denial of the writ is in no way a ruling on the merits of the case, nor does it preclude the Diocese or Father Bayhi from pursuing constitutional challenges which have not yet been ruled upon by the trial court.”

“The Diocese and Fr Bayhi will continue their efforts to protect the guarantees of religious freedom set forth in our state and federal constitutions, and are confident that those efforts will, in due course, be successful.”

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