Cleansing Fire

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Week 29 in Catholic Media, 2014

July 17th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This post is appearing early (last week’s was late) but the reason is that I probably don’t have to see tomorrow’s headlines in order to know this is the most important news story of the week.  Why?  Because it involves very great danger to souls. ScreenShot348LifesiteNews has reported a great offense against our Religious Freedom, handed down by the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana.  What can we do?  Pray for Fr. Jeff Bayhi, that the State of Louisiana recind its demand that he testify and break the seal of confession, AND that Fr. Bayhi will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to endure what he is called to suffer in order to protect the seal of confession.  And then spread the call for a boycott of Louisiana, travel, meetings, products.    We might even think of sending letters of support to Fr. Bayhi and to his bishop.  Please read through to consider the question of whether or not Fr. Bayhi is being victimized by his strong stand against the HHS mandate.  Here are excerpts from the story.

Louisiana diocese denounces court for compelling priest to break seal of confession

by Lisa Bourne
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has denounced the Louisiana Supreme Court decision that compels one of its priests to testify in court about confessions he may have heard. “A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for thousands of years mandates that the seal of confession is absolute and inviolable,” the diocese said…. “Pursuant to his oath to the Church, a priest is compelled never to break that seal.  This is not a gray area in the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church,” it said, noting that a priest who violates the seal of confession incurs an automatic excommunication.
“If necessary, the priest would have to suffer a finding of contempt in a civil court and suffer imprisonment rather than violate his sacred duty and violate the seal of confession and his duty to the penitent,” the diocese said. …the alleged confessions were made by a minor child to the priest, and pertained to sexual abuse of the minor by another church parishioner. The statement concerns a lawsuit naming Father Jeff Bayhi and the diocese as defendants…. Father Bayhi [is being compelled] to testify as to whether or not there were confessions and, if the  confessions did occur, what the contents of the confessions were. But according to the diocese, a priest is not even “allowed to admit that someone went to confession to him.”
It would seem to be a fair question as to whether or not Fr. Bayhi’s strong stance against the HHS mandate has something to do with what can be viewed as harassment.  The reason this court action is so significant is its blatant violation of the First Amendment Freedom of Religion.  The damage of course to souls comes from the fear it might cause in souls to avoid confession, so necessary for forgiveness of sin and for the salvation of souls.  This ruling strikes at the very heart of the Catholic Faith.
And isn’t this a timely comment from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an interview from Russia today?
“If we confess something to our priest inside a church that would be private, but is it any different if we send our pastor a private email confessing a crisis that we have in our life?” said Snowden.  He was advocating more encryption for doctors, lawyers, journalists and others handling sensitive information.  It is interesting that he focused on the vulnerability of priests and the information they handle.
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One Response to “Week 29 in Catholic Media, 2014”

  1. avatar christian says:

    It is terrible that a court is trying to get a Roman Catholic priest to break the seal of the confessional.
    The first thought that came to mind is the movie “I Confess” by Alfred Hitchcock. (Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make a movie as a tribute to his Catholic faith). In the film, the priest is put on trial for murder of which he is innocent. He cannot break the seal of the confessional to save his own life. The guilty caretaker who actually dressed in the priest’s cassock to commit the murder, and then planted incriminating evidence, makes his confession to the priest afterward. The priest goes through all type of hardships due to misconstrued information regarding his past in an attempt to make him look bad. He loses the respect of his parishioners and the community as they find him despicable. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I recommend you see it.-It’s on a number of sites.

    I think it is unfortunate that this minor child relayed this information to a priest in a confession. It may have had to do with this very young victim feeling guilt over the activity that was forced upon him by an adult parishioner. In cases such as these, the priest should tell the minor to tell his parents and that they should contact the police. As a result of the victimization, the child should also receive professional counseling. (I hope the child wasn’t just given a penance and sent on their way).

    If the parishioner relayed his serious sexual sin of pedophilia to the priest, the priest should have insisted that this parishioner turn himself into the police and admit their sin/crime and convey that this is the action of someone truly remorseful for their sin. He should have informed them that their actions were disordered and sick, as well as being illegal, and that they should seek professional help.

    But it is true-our religious freedom as Christians is under attack.
    I would think that most priests would try to convince someone to turn themselves into the police if the committed murder. In heinous crimes, I think it is the priest’s responsibility to point out the seriousness of the crime, and while God is forgiving, the confessional shouldn’t be their last stop to deal with their actions.

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