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Defamation and Church Newsletters

Can a church be sued for publishing derogatory statements in its newsletter?


• Can a church be guilty of defamation if it publishes derogatory statements in a church newsletter? No, concluded a Louisiana appeals court. A Catholic priest became upset when he suspected that a monument company that did work at a church cemetery was guilty of using church utilities without paying for them. He wrote a letter to the owner of the monument company which stated, in part: "Stated simply, your workers entered our property, and used [church] utilities without permission, and that is theft. I could have them arrested for and charged, for your information." A copy of the letter was sent to the diocese. A week later, the priest published the following statement in a church newsletter (that was mailed to 362 families): "For your information, I have been obliged [to inform the monument company] that it is forbidden … to perform work of any kind in [the cemetery]. The ...

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  • May 1, 1992