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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Court of Appeals rules on priest/penitent relationship

A communication between a church congregant and a clergy member need not include the seeking of forgiveness of sin to be protected by the priest-penitent privilege, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.

The definition of “penitential communication” in the Evidence Code is broader than, and takes precedence over, the dictionary definition of “penitential,” Presiding Justice Candace Cooper wrote for Div. Eight. [source]

So says the Division Eight of the LA Appelate Court. This ruling is interesting for a couple of reasons - first because it involves a case of child abuse [though involving a Methodist church] and secondly because it rules that any communication between someone and a clergy member should fall under the priest-penitent privilege as long as it was intended to be confidential. This would include not just confessions, but also spiritual advice and pastoral counseling.


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