INVESTIGATORS "BUG" RELIGIOUS CONFESSION
Confessor and God Aren't Only Ones Listening
In CN 3.22 was brought to you Sherman Skolnick's report on how
federal intelligence agencies were "bugging" the confessionals in
St. Peter's Church in Chicago. Included was Mr. Skolnick's
interview with an anonymous priest. Here are excerpts:
PRIEST: If the Attorney General's office "bugged" our
confessionals, there'd be Hell to pay!
SKOLNICK: The U.S. Attorney in Chicago, who at the time was
PRIEST: Well there would be *Hell* *to* *pay* if he did! I
would be suspended, just that quick, if I would condone
anything like that. That's absolutely a violation of the
confession. And that is part of the things that any ordinary
*priest* cannot violate. So if he cannot tell it himself, he
certainly would not be able to permit something with which
anybody else could get the information.
It's against the whole, the whole teaching of the
Catholic Church! I mean, the seal of confession, I mean even
the Pope can't, has no right to ask a priest what he heard in
confession. I mean, this has, this has been recognized by
all the courts.
I just can't even, I can't even *believe* that this
happened, that anybody would be that *stupid*!
Now comes an Associated Press story (05/11/96 in the local
newspaper) about this same sort of thing having occurred in an
Oregon jailhouse. Investigators, says the article, secretly tape
recorded a murder suspect's confession to a Catholic priest.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious
and Civil Rights, is quoted as saying, "It's an absolute outrage.
They used this priest. They brought him in to perform the
sacrament of reconciliation [confession]. And then they bugged
The confession was heard by the Rev. Timothy Mockaitis. The
suspect, Conan Wayne Hale, apparently believed that the
prosecutors would not dare invade the special relation between
clergy and their followers.
This info is passed along as tending to corroborate Mr.
Skolnick's report as contained in CN 3.22.