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.
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