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No Confidentiality Privilege for the Clergy in Abuse Cases

March 17, 2004

Re "A Novel Tack by Cardinal," March 14: By now it seems obvious to everyone except the imperial Cardinal Roger Mahony that the war is over -- and his yearned-for secrecy has lost. Confabulating new legal privileges in the face of the groundswell of opinion calling for full disclosure and transparency is the final straw.

For the sake of the recovery of the Roman Catholic Church, for the good of the faithful and our besieged faith in our clergy, quit playing games and turn over all the files, Cardinal Mahony. And type up your resignation while you're at it. Embarrass your brethren no longer.

Blaise Jackson



I was appalled to read the article on Mahony. As a Baptist clergyman and denominational official with over 40 years in the ministry, I am aware that some years ago the state of California removed the "knowledge of or confessional confidentiality right" of pastoral privilege in cases of child abuse. Counsel informed us all that to not report such information was a felony. I am certain that should I have refused to report, as the cardinal has done, I would have been charged and arrested, and rightly so.

Since church law has not enjoyed a place superior to civil law since the Middle Ages, I suggest a quick and sure solution to the stand taken by Mahony. Simply arrest him and grant him the opportunity of stating his case in court. If he is not correct, there would be certain penalties. If he should prevail, he would be granting a restoration of privilege to all of us clergy, whether we wanted it or not.

William L. Ebling

Pastor of Prime Time

Ministries, First Baptist

Church of Downey


Let Mahony as well as his public relations team and lawyers who have concocted this fallacious "formation privilege" to save only the cardinal's skin -- and for no other reason -- perish by it. If the cardinal won't resign, having led a cover-up campaign that has cost the laity nationally at least $572 million in payouts thus far in the sexual assault scandal, then it's time to criminally prosecute the cardinal for obstruction of justice.

Russ Bianchi

Soquel, Calif.

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