Monday, January 30, 2006

New Hampshire legislature and House Bill 1127

The New Hampshire state legislature is currently considering a bill (House Bill 1127), sponsored by Representatives Mary Stuart Gile and Donald A. Brueggemann - both Democrats, which seeks to remove the priest-penitent privilege. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has issued a statement which may be found here:

In this statement, Catholic League President correctly notes that:

“In January 2003, the Catholic League publicly protested a proposed New Hampshire bill designed to break the seal of the confessional—all under the guise of protecting young people. The bill eventually lost. But now the same person who sponsored that bill is back, Mary Gile, thus assuring round two. She seems not to know when to quit.

“Gile’s bill is flawed in three ways: (a) it is an unconstitutional encroachment by the state on religion (b) it is based on the superstition that child molesters are going free because priests are shielding them from the authorities, and (c) it is premised on the fatuous notion that priests would violate the seal of the confessional before ever going to prison.

"The priest-penitent privilege has been honored by the courts for over 200 years. Neither Rep. Gile, nor anyone else, has one scintilla of evidence suggesting that child abuse would decrease if what is heard in the confessional were made public. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is conditioned on confidentiality, much like lawyer-client, doctor-patient, reporter-source relationships. For all these reasons, Gile’s bill is a loser, and should be shot down again.”

As Mr. Donohue makes clear, the priest- penitent privilege has a firm basis in United States Law:

I would therefore urge all faithful Catholics throughout the Granite State to oppose this arrogance and to send a powerful message to Representative Mary Stuart Gile and all those legislators who would follow her in her insidious effort to undermine the autonomy of the Church in this regard by forcing her to violate the sacramental seal when the State deems it "necessary."

Canon 983: "The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason."

Contact Representative Mary Stuart Gile (D) at:

35 Penacook St
Concord, NH 03301-4518
Phone: (603) 224-2278
Fax: (603) 224-3072

Contact Representative Donald A. Brueggemann (D) at:

14 Noyes St
Concord, NH 03301-2322
Phone: (603) 224-5548

Business address:

42 N Main St
Concord, NH 03301



Anonymous said...

This isn't the first time Representative Gile has tried this. As the Catholic League has reminded us, she tried to legislate away the seal of the confessional back in 2003.

Is this woman simply an anti-Catholic bigot? You have to wonder what is driving her.

Anonymous said...

New Hampshire legislators are out of control. hey voted to allow abortifacient drugs for underage females, now they want to attack the churches in this way. It's demonic.

Anonymous said...

The solution is painfully simple. Hold these legislators accountable during the next election. The Democratic Party has become the party of abortion on demand, homosexuality, the "right to die" movement and every other anti-God, anti-family and anti-life agenda in this country.

Anonymous said...

I went to the website for the Manchester Diocese but so far the Diocese has not issued any statement regarding this attack on a Catholic sacrament.

I'm hoping that will change. I'm hoping that Church officials here in NH actually care.

Anonymous said...

Patricia, I agree totally. We should hold these politicians accountable at the ballot-box. That always sends a powerful message.....

Cheryl, I hope the New Hampshire diocese does get involved over this issue. If they remain silent, something is amiss.

Cleghornboy said...

It should be noted that the Diocese of Manchester has addressed this issue. In a letter dated January 10, 2006, the Chancellor wrote the Honorable Edward P. Moran, Chairman of the Children and Family Law Committee, to express concerns over HB 1127.

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