SNAP Connecticut

Clergy should have no privilege in abuse cases

January 25, 2005

To the editor:
In response to the Jan. 18 editorial, "An issue of limits in cleric's testimony," I must question if the "privilege extended to members of clergy respecting the sanctity of their relationships with parishioners and colleagues" has been confused with the sanctity of the confessional.

What is said in the sacrament of penance is indeed protected, up to a point, but "a church official's thoughts and decisions" regarding the exercise of his or her supervisory, legal or fiscal responsibilities are in no way protected from legal scrutiny by anything except an unfortunate and very un-American tradition.

In a country founded not only on the separation of church and state, but also on the ideal of equal justice before the law regardless of status, we now learn that unspeakable crimes were covered up for decades by a powerful, wealthy, religious institution in part because of a "certain level of privilege" -- newspapers did not report, police did not arrest, judges did not convict. But those days have passed. Newspapers all over the country broke the story, and judges, including our Stamford Superior Court Judge Chase Rogers, now insist that no one is above the law.

Though there will be no trial, the subpoena was another remarkable step toward U.S.-style justice for all.

Gail Howard
Via e-mail

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Last Updated: October 26, 2005