Religious Confession and Evidential Privilege in the 21st Century is a collection of articles by scholars, attorneys and religious leaders that represents the leading comparative study of our time on priest-penitent privilege—or, more broadly, religious confession privilege—across faiths and throughout the world.
As the volume makes abundantly clear, the privilege is not limited to its historical roots in the Catholic Church. It has profound impact and significance for members of a broad range of religions—from Presbyterians to Seventh-day Adventists and Latter-day Saints to Scientologists. In a fundamental sense, the issue has a bearing on the First Amendment rights and religious freedom of all people of faith.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his thought-provoking foreword to Religious Confession writes: “The purpose of the confessional discipline is the restoration of the penitent to the life of the community—with all the healing and reparation that might imply…. Any challenge to a doctrine that has been lived out in the historic practice of the churches, will understandably be seen as cutting to the heart of commitments to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which are matters of both individual and collective rights.”
Nevertheless, Bishop Williams continues, when it comes to confessional privilege and the complexities attendant to it, “There are no easy answers. However, by collating a range of views across denominations and continents, the contributors to this book have provided a clear account of the issues that arise where sincere and rigorously disciplined confessional practice intersects with questions of evidential privilege in state courts. This volume will undoubtedly help to stimulate discussion, and to inform a deeper understanding on all sides of this tangled and urgent issue.”
Religious Confession and Evidential Privilege in the 21st Century can be purchased from Connor Court Publishing.
A. Keith Thompson, Robert Natanek, Patrick Parkinson, Monica Doumit, Mario Ferrante, Mark Hill QC, Christopher Grout, Andreas Henriksen Aarflot, Stephen Farrell, Gregory Zubacz, Giorgio Morelli and Eric Lieberman