What lawmakers concerned about child abuse get wrong about church confessions
The Arizona Supreme Court dismissed a high-profile child sex abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints late last year, ruling in favor of church officials because of Arizona's clergy-penitent privilege. The justices said the officials had no duty to report that a church member had been abusing his daughter because the information was received during a confession.
The ruling sparked outrage from some, and at the same time, one Democratic lawmaker tried to introduce a bill in the Arizona Legislature that would make it mandatory for clergy to report child abuse even if they learn about it in a confessional setting. The bill was blocked by Republican Rep. Quang Nguyen, who said, as a Catholic, he saw it as an affront to an essential sacrament in his faith.
So what is the religious defense of this clergy-penitent privilege? And why is it to essential to many faiths?
For some insight into those questions, The Show got a hold of Dr. Michael Mazza, a Catholic canon and civil lawyer as well as a professor at Marquette Law School in Milwaukee.