Ethical Considerations of Clergy Confidentiality

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About This Course

Clergy confidentiality is an evidentiary privilege that derives from the seal of the confessional of the Roman Catholic Church. However, it also has far-reaching implications in terms of defining the role, restrictions and responsibilities of clergy of all faiths when entering into conversations in their capacity as spiritual counselors. This CLE course examines a number of court cases and scenarios, particularly relating to Rabbis of the Jewish faith, in which members of the clergy navigated tensions between their religious obligations to protect others from harm and the limitations and expectations imposed upon them by the civil law statutes.

This always-relevant CLE program, given by Rabbi-lawyer Yona Reiss, provides source material and background information regarding a host of complicated ethical scenarios that explore questions such as: (a) when does societal good override the rights of individuals; (b) what are the applications of the free exercise and establishment clause to laws governing the conduct of clergy; (c) how is clergy defined and how are clergy-penitent communications defined in ambiguous situations; and (d) what are the most prudent steps to take to ensure that the privilege serves its intended purpose without infringing upon religious liberties or the welfare of others.

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