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Confidential and Privileged Communications

• A New York state appeals court addressed the issue of privileged communications to clergy in an important decision. Here are the facts. An individual entered an office building in New York City, pulled a gun and ordered several people to lie on the floor, and fired at least one shot. He later left the building and went to a nearby Catholic church. The church secretary informed the priest that there was a man in the office who wanted to see him. The priest met the individual in the church sanctuary a short time later. The individual appeared very distraught, and informed the priest that his mother was a member of the parish and that she was a saint, and that he had done something very bad. Upon further questioning by the priest, the individual disclosed the actions he had taken earlier in the day. The priest advised the individual that if he had not hurt anyone he "would be better ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • March 1, 1990

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