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Taping of Confessions Is 'Disturbing' Trend

January 03, 1991

I am writing to express my concern over an article headlined "Ex-Suspect in Molest Case Sues Priest" (Times, Dec. 20), which I found highly disturbing.

As an Episcopalian of Roman Catholic origin, I had considered the sacrament of confession to be governed by rules of confidentiality and to now discover that there is no policy prohibiting the taping of such confessions by a priest I find appalling.

If Canon Bruce MacPherson has been quoted correctly, then steps must be taken to either ban the taping of confessions by the clergy or make it known to the laity that such activity is indeed taking place. It seems to me that by taping a confession, the pronouncement of absolution is negated because the tape then contains a record of that which supposedly is no more.

I had been told by my priest that the concern of a priest during confession is to see that absolution is pronounced and then to see that proper counseling is done so that the newly absolved will then "turn himself in" as in cases involving molest or murder.

If, indeed, this is not the way things work in the Episcopal Church, then I and many others who seek counsel and the Sacrament of Reconciliation on occasion will have this avenue to spiritual peace closed.

If, indeed, my conversations/confessions are open for taping, then I will not ever again enter any priest's office for the purpose of obtaining guidance or help.

KATHLEEN A. FERRIS, Glendora

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