What is not clear from the article, "The Children’s Code also requires that, even in cases of confidential religious communications, the clergy member must encourage the child to contact the appropriate authorities in cases of suspected abuse." If, and it is a huge "if", Bayhi did encourage Mayeaux to contact the police and she did not, then maybe I could see the judge's ruling. Without that caveat, I am having a hard time swallowing this pill.
The Catholic Church needs to change and needs to change fast.
A provision of the Louisiana Children’s Code that requires clergy to report allegations of wrongdoing, even if learned in the privacy of the confessional, is unconstitutional, a state judge ruled Friday in a long-running case involving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge.Judge rules priests not required to report alleged wrongdoing if learned during confession | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The case involves the Rev. Jeff Bayhi and Rebecca Mayeaux, a 22-year-old woman who says she was 14 in 2008 when she told the Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church pastor in Clinton in a confession that a 64-year-old parishioner was sexually abusing her. She alleges Bayhi told her to “sweep it under the floor and get rid of it.”
The state Children’s Code says members of the clergy, including priests, rabbis and other ordained ministers of faith, are mandatory reporters of suspected abuse. The law provides an exception when the allegations of abuse are revealed during a confidential religious communication like confession.
However, the code — specifically Article 609 A(1) — also states that “notwithstanding any claim of privileged communication, any mandatory reporter who has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare is endangered” must report that information to the proper authorities.
After hearing Bayhi testify Friday that he would be automatically excommunicated if he revealed what was said in any confession, District Judge Mike Caldwell ruled Article 609 A(1) violates the priest’s constitutionally protected religious freedom rights.
Michael Deshazo, who also represents Bayhi and the diocese, argued to Caldwell that Article 609 A(1) of the Children’s Code “gravely violates” Bayhi’s religious freedom rights.
Abels countered that the article applies across the board to all mandatory reporters, not just clergy.
“There’s no singling out of anyone here based on religion,” he argued.