Pastor, Church & Law
The Clergy-Penitent Privilege—"Acting in a Professional Capacity as a Spiritual Advisor"
Key point 3-07.4. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made to a minister acting in a professional capacity as a spiritual adviser.
Most clergy-penitent privilege laws require that the communication be made to a minister acting in a professional capacity as a spiritual adviser. Certainly there can be no expectation of confidentiality—and therefore no privilege—unless a statement is made to a minister acting in such a capacity.
If a statement is made to a minister as a mere friend, the privilege does not apply. To illustrate, a murder suspect's incriminating admissions made to a clergyman who was a friend and frequent companion were held not to be privileged. The court reasoned that ...
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