Robert D. Mayeux and Lisa M. Mayeux VS George J. Charlet, Jr., deceased, Charlet Funeral Home, Inc., Reverend M. Jeffrey Bayhi and the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Baton Rouge

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STATE OF LOUISI ANA F2T l C OF APPEAL ST 7I FYP CiR lQ 2913 CVd 03 f 6 PARENTS OF M1INOR CHILD VERSUS GEORGE J CHARLET JR DECEASED CHARLET FUNERAL HOME INC THE PRIEST AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE DIOCESE OF BATON ROUGE Judgment rendered OCT 21 2013 On Application for Writ of Certiorari to the 19 Judicial Listrict CoJrt in and for the Parish of East Bakon Rouge Louisiana Trial Court No 580066 F Honorable R Michael aldwe Judge l lJ BRIAN K ABELS ORNEYS AT FOR RESPONDENTS PLAINTIFFS MARK D BOYER DENHAM SPRINGS LA PARENTS OF THE MINOR CHILD DON M RICHARD MICHAEL L DESHAZO ATTORNEYS FOR REL4TOR5 DEFENDANTS NEW ORLEANS LA THE RIEST AND THE ROMAN fATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE DIOCESE OF BATON ROUGE t1 lf 1 QitJ t CC S 5 G s5 c rS BEFORE PARRO KUHN AND PEITIGREW J Because this matter deals with delicate subjects and for ti orokeckion of the parties involved the record e was sealed both at the tria court and on appeai except for this appeal opinion To further protect the privacy of the parties involved the names have been omit herein and the parties wili be referred to as ted the parents of the minor child piaintiffs the minor child and the priest defendant PETTIGREW J The defendants the priest an the Ro atholic Ch of the Diocese of East na rch Baton Rouge the Church seek su reuiew cf a trial court denial of their motion ervisory s in limine which had sought to prevent he piaintiffs on this matter from mentioning referencing and introducing evider at trial of any confessions that may or may not or ce have taken place between plaintiffs minor child ared the priest while the priest was acting in his official capacity as a Diocesan priest and hearing confession from his parishioner the minor child We granted certiorari to address the significant and res noua issue underlying the determination of the propriety of allowing such evidence whether the priest is a mandatory reporter under Louisiana Chiidren s sCode provisions In reviewing the issue uis a vis the trial court writ judgment for the following s en reasons we find this matter compEis us to exereise the authority vested in us by La P C art 9276 to raise on our own motion the peremptory exception of no cause of action and grant same in effect dismissing all of plaintiffs claims against the priest and the Church FACTUAL BACKGROUND On July 6 2009 plaintiffs the parents of a minor daughter filed a petition for damages suffered by them and their daughter as a result of the alleged inappropriate and sexual acts perpetrated on the minor chiic They named as defendants the alleged perpetrator then George J Charlet ar a vell long parishioner deceased known time and active member of the Church who died ora February 9 2Q09 while a criminal investigation into those allegations was endingl Charlet Funera Home Inc of which Mr Charfet was the alleged President the proest far ailegediy being a mandatory reporter who failed to report the abuse allegatfons and the Church alleging vicarious liability for the alleged misconduct of the priest in failing tq report the sexual abuse as well as for the negligent training and supervision ofi khe priest The plaintiffs later added a claim against the Church alleging additional liability for the acts of Mr Charlet under the theory that he too was an employee of the Church parish however these claims were later dismissed by summary judgment 2 The parents alleged that in 2000 their family moved from Baton Rouge to Clinton in East Feliciana Parish and began attending Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church where they met and became friendly with a parishioner Mr Charlet as well as the priest the pastor of the chur Acc h rdi khe petition from the young age of gto eight years through her adolescerit years their r daughter viewed Mr Charlet as a inor second grandfather The petition alleged that during the summer of 2008 when the minor daughter was approximately twelve years old there began an exchange of emails 1 per day 2 from Mr Charlet to the minor child involving words of inspiration and daily Bible verses It is alleged that the emails soon increased in frequency 5 per day and also began 7 taking on a more personal tone while being laced with seductive nuances Mr Charlet allegedly told the minor child to keep the nature of their email correspondence private and to herself because no person other than God would understand their mutual feelings for one another The petition contains various other paragraphs none of which are directly relevant to the issue herein detailing the continued wrongful acts of Mr Charlet which culminated with kissing and fondling the minor child The petition alleged that the minor child became confused and scared over the evolving relationship with Mr Charlet and that n three separate occasions she decided to seek spiritual guidance through the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the defendant priest The petition alleges that on Tuesday July 15 2008 and Tuesday July 29 2008 prior to the 6 p mass at the church as well as on at least one other 30 m occasion after July 29 2008 the minor child related to the priest during her confession 2 The actual reports made by the minor child were that on several occasions Mr Charlet kissed her aggressively sticking his tongue down her throat and fondled her breasts underneath her shirt and bra There are also specific allegations about a sexually journal that Mr Charlet wrote during a trip to laced Korea detailing his desires that the girl be on that trip with him and including an entry that he had taken a naked picture of himself in the shower to send her at a later time He allegedly gave the 53 journai to page the minor child upon his retum from that trip 3 the Sacrament of Reconciliationl that Mr Charlet had inappropriately touched her kissed her and told her that wanted to make love to her According to the petition and he consistent with the minor child subsequent deposition testimony fhe priest allegedly s responded to her that she simpiy needed ko handle the situatior herself because otherwise too many people would be hurt The minor child testified that during one of those confessions she told the priest what had happened and asked for advice on how to end it According to her deposition testimony He just said this is your problem Sweep it under the floor and get rid of it Subsequent to these three confessions during which the minor child relayed the sexual acts by Mr Charlet to the priest the abusive acts fully detailed in the petition continued On one occasion the minor child decided she needed to take the advice given to her by the priest during the confessions and confront Mr Charlet in person She attempted to arrange a meeting with Mr Charlet at his place of business but when she arrived at the funeral home she was surprised to find no one there other than Mr Charlet who then proceeded to sexually abuse her in his private office The minor child became scared again and instead of confronting him she simply reminded him that her mother would be there shortly to pick her up to which he responded We better go eat before I eat you up According to the allegations in the petition and the deposition testimony in the record subsequent meetings were had one between the priest and Mr and Mrs Charlet and another between the Charlets and the minor child parents the plaintiffs s concerning the obsessive number of emails and phone cafis between Mr Charlet and the minor child and the seeming inappropriate closeness between the two that had been observed by various parishioners Again according to the allegations in the petition after these meetings Mr Charlet contacted the minor child to let her know about the meetings He informed her that he told them their relationship was mutual and appropriate that he did not know if they believed him but he assured her he would take care of making sure everyone believed their relationship was appropriate and mutual and that she just needed to play the game 4 However shortly thereafter the parents canfronted their minor daughter about the emails and phone calls at which time she confessed tQ the true nature of the relationship with Mr Charlet incfuding de of th inappr sexual contacts The plaintiffs ails t pri immediately contacked Mr I e ha r cease contacfi w their daughter arlex derinc n tn According to the p h r d suhseaaa Sc the laintiffs witnessed tition we sr nt nday Mr Charlet approach their dauynt rr c ci hu her 3penly against her will auscY j They then filed a formal complaint against Mr Charlet with the East Feliciana Parish s Sheriff Department According to the petition the investigation was ongoing when on February 9 2009 Mr Charlet died unexpectedly after suffering a massive heart attack while in post recovery following knee surgery operative replacement APPLICABLE LAW In order to facilitate an understanding of the subsequent procedural history and a discussion and analysis of the issues presented the law applicable to the parties arguments and resolution of the issues is provided at this juncture Louisiana Children sCode article 603 provides definitions applicable throughout the Title VI of the Code In relevant part it provides asfollows with emphasis added As used in this Title 1 Abuse means any one of the following acts whoch seriously endanger the physical mental or emokional health and safety of the child c The involvement of the child d a sexual act with y parent or any other person or the auding or toleration by the parent or the caretaker of the child sexual involvement with s any other person or of the child vof in pornographic sis ement displays or any other involvemenk of a child in sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state 15 Mandatory reporter is any of the following individuals c Member of the clergy is any priest rabbi duly ordained cferical deacon or minister Christian Science practitioner or other similarly situated functionary c a refigious organization f except that he is not repuired to eport a confidentia communication as defined in Gode ofEviden eArtic 511 from a person to a member of khe ciergy who in the course of the dis or practice of that church ipline 5 denomination or Qrganization is a or accustomed to ized o t9 hearing confid eommunocatsor nd uncier the discipline ntial or tenets of the c denom er organization has a rcfa ination duty to keep such commur confdential In that s icatio instance he shalf encc that p to repart the rac rsJ allegations to the pr auth in accordance with riat w ies Articl2 fi1Q Louisiana Cade of Evidenc rk 1 c ommunieations to clergymen i d t r which is referenced in the foregoing C ode detiniteo pro4 provides s nidren s ision A Definitions As used in this Article 1 A is a minister priest rabbi Christian Science clergyman practitioner or other similar functionary of a religious organization or an individual reasonably believed sa to be by the person consulting him 2 A communication is confidential if it is made p and not ivatety intended for further disdosure except to other persons present in furtherance of the purpose of the communication B General rule of privilege A person has a privi ko refuse to ege disdose and to prevent another person from disc a conFdential sing communication by the person to a c in his professional yman character as spiritual adviser C Who may claim the privilege f1n privi may be c by eye aimed the person or by his legal representatise Tne clergyman is presumed to have authority to claim the privilege on b of the person or deceased half person Louisiana Children sCode article 609 addressees mandatory as well as permitted reporting and provides in pertinent part with emphasis added A With respect to mandatory reporters 1 Notwithstanding any c of privi communication a aim eged mandatorv revorter who has cause ko believe that a child physical or s mental health or welfare is endangered as a resuli of abuse or neglect or that abuse or neglect was a cfaet ntributing rin a child death sha report s f in accordance with Articfe 61 ation io of the duties imposed upon a mandatory reporter subjects the offender to crimina zed by l2 14 cutionauthor prose S 403 J A 2 Louisiana Revis Statukes 14 referred tp in the Chiidren Code as the d 4Q3 s penalty provision for violations of the mandatory reporter Vaws provides in pertinent part with emphasis adcfed 6 403 Abuse of childrer r iorts ahaai caf privwle er e A a 1 Any ersan who ur C Code Article 609 is der ri rens A required to repoit the abuse or neglec7t r sexual abuse of a child and knowingly and wsllfully fails fo so repc shall be guilty of a misdemeanor t and upon corrviction mav be fne ot mar thar five hu dollars or dred imprisoned for not mor h ix ie r a a th ath nx B In any proceeding coneerni ch af r ror sexual abuse of a se lec u e child or the cause of such conait evic rrray raot be excluded on any r e c e ground ofpriuilege except in the case ofcommunications between an attorney and his client ar between a priesi rabbi duly ordained minister or Christian Sc practitioner and fiis c ence ommunicant SPECIFIC FACTS ALLEGATIONS AND PItOCEblJR 4L11ISTARY RE THE PRIEST AND THE CHURCH y Specifical as to the priest tne p alleges that he was negligent in advising titior the minor child auring her confessions on three separate occasions Ehat she needed to handle the abusive relationship w Mr harlet by herself because too many people th would be hurt if they found out The petition seek damages for this alleged negligent advising The petition further specifically alieg th d tkhe priest is a reporter mandatory pursuant to La Children Code art 503 w a resulting mandatory legal duty s c 15 th pursuant to La Children Code art 609 to eport the abuse to the proper locai s authorities and to the minor parents Thus tF p s e ainte faVlege the proest is also liable to them for his failure to immediately report tihe abuu and that the Ch is iiable for the rch negligence of the priest as its ea eas wei9 as ats cwr Ifeged egiigence in failing to ploy train and supervise him as a manda re of hila abuse ory ort r Motion In Limine At Issue H rein In February 2013 khe ps ar th Fac fii a motion in iimin seefcing to rest a rc d exclude ak trial a evidence ineiud tes by the minor chiiti herself about the f ng imony confessions The deniai of cnac motion is the s of this supervisory review and grant t ubje of certiorari However the d had also filed a mation for summary judgment fendants which was heard and decided rior to the r on the motion in limine Alti no iinc ough review has been sought of the denial of ti moticn for summary judgment the issues e raised and the defendants s n argum in support of that mation are similar to arrd often overlap those advanced in suFpork of khe rruotio s limine Also they are pertinent to a a full understanding of the issue befQre us on the pr of the denial of the motion in prfety limine Therefore to that e ta otio u t discussed ent th s sill Summarv u dctment First defendants argued that any and I damages suffered by the minor child were at the hands of and due to acts of no one other than Mr Charlet not the priest Moreover they contended that the priest attained knowledge of these incidents of abuse through the Sacrament of Reconciliation pursuant to which that communication was cloaked with a statutory confidentiality as well as protected against disclosure by the They maintained that according to La Children Code art s Catholic Canon law c 15 603 a priest is classified as a mandatory reporter when the information is received while he is not performing his vocational ministry but the statute specifically excludes the reporting of confidential communications as defined by Article 511 of the La Code of Evidence That codal article provides that a communicatioh is confidential when relayed to a clergyman when it is made in private and not intended for further disclosure See La E C art 511 They further argued that the penal statute for failing to report La 2 A S 403 R 14 also supports their claim of priviiege by providing B In any proceeding concerning the abuse or neglect or sexual abuse of a evidence may not be excluded on any ground of privilege exceptin child the case of communications between an attorney and his client or between a priest and his communicant Defendants also argued that the priest is bound by the mandates of the Roman Catholic Church Law known as the Code of Canon Law which also preclude him from divulging information acquired through fhe Sacramerrt of Reconciliation They attached to their motion the affidavit of Fr Paui Counce Judici 4 and canon lav for the lear i yer Diocese which explained in detail and cited fhe faw of the Catholic Church and the obligation of confidentiality that a priest has in refation to anything heard in reconciliations confessions which is cloaked by thE Seal of Confession The affidavit attests that the SeaP is absolute Moreover a violat thereof results in the in stante on excommunication of the priest the most severe penalty icnown to the Church 8 The defendants maintained that it is undi that the only communications had puted between the minor child and the priest concerning the sexua acts committed by Mr Charlet occurred during the Sacrament af Reconciliation therefore to compel the priest to disclose such communications under threat of statutory penalties whether civil or criminal would be to place his duty ko his faith and his duty to abide by statutory authority into direct conflict They maintained that to compel the priest to disclose such communications would entangle the State in matters of church doctrine implicating the constitutional right of the free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment They claimed that the Louisiana Legislature recognized as much by enacting a statutory scheme that exempts such communications from the mandatory reporting provisions in the Children Code s Additionally the defendants asserted that the Diocese cannot be held liable because the church itself has no duty to report even ffthe plaintiffs misaligned claims that the priest is a mandatory reporter were to be upheld Finally the defendants asserted that there is no private right of action against a mandatory reporter for the failure to report the statutory remedy being limited to criminal prosecution pursuant to La R 14 Although there is no Louisiana jurisprudence S 403 defendants cite several cases from other jurisdictions with similar mandatory reporting statutes that have held that there is no private cause of action for a violation of such a the remedy therefor being limited to criminal prosecution by the state statute The underlying reasoning for such a finding in those cases is thak the duty is owed to the general public for the protection of its minor children and not to any one person in particular Plaintiffs opposed the motion for summary judgment on several fronts only those pertinent to the motion in limine are presented here They argued without admitting 3 We note that the constitutional issue is certainly implicated in this case However the parties advised this court during the oral argument that in accordance with the long jurisprudence that precludes this standing murt from determining the constitutionality of a statute until after such determination has been made by a trial court they had separately and subsequently reised that specific issue and khat that proceeding is currently pending in the trial court Accordingly we need not address or decide that issue 9 that even ifthe priest were statutc ex t the efinition and obligations of a riiy mpt ronn mandatory reporter t on tning exduded wouid be the knowledge acquired by the ey priest during the mi child confessia ey tth evide d from nor s a intalned ce rived Ms Chariet depasit reveals that a r z r a 3rzfarmatior received so s art m ny directly from the minar child durin ae F F praest i6nself had independently iQr s raf e observed and discussed his concems aboui the a between Mr Charlet and the teraction minor child and that he expressed those eoncerns with khem During that meeting according to Ms Charlet deposition the priest advised the Chariets to speak with the s minor child mother and he advised Mr Charlet to end his friendship with the minor child s Thus to the extent that the priest independently observed and voiced concerns about seemingly inappropriate relations between Mr Charlet and the minor child plaintiffs argued that he indeed did have the statutory duty as a mandatory reporter since this information was acquired outside the confidential communication and is not cloaked with the privilege of a confidential communication Thus plaintiffs maintained a genuine issue of materlal fact exists as to whether to tk ei the priest was a mandatory reporter is ent under La Children sCode arts 603 and 609 such tf summary judgment is preduded at Plaintiffs additionally maintained that any privilege attaching to the confessional communications had been waived by tne minor cr the holder of the privilege by and id through her consent and disc9osure ef the cornrnun cations They also submitted an affidavit executed by chem and ths minor eniid xpressly waiving her privilege regarding herconfession Finally plaintiffs disputed the defendants claim that reporting the information was against Catholic Canon Law and even argued that pursuar to Catholic Canon Law the t priest had a duty to report the abuse and the ChUrch is vicariously I for the priest able s breach of that duty In support of this positio piaintiffs submitted into evidenee relevant portions of the Coae of Ethics ana Behavior for Adults whcr Monister uvith Marors irc the Diocese af Baton Rouge Diocesan Cod of Ethics and guidelines regarding sExual abuse of chiidren However as will be seere below our ultimate issue abviakes discussion of this argument and no further expYanation of piaintiffs argument is necessary 1 In denying the motior for srraer as to the priest duty to report the ryiaidc mt s trial court expressly found en ssues af at fact as to what the priest knew ain rPa when he knew t when he gc th fr iP I infor was acquired x rr at r atson arion somehow other than during the ea uskwr what ftI riest may have crs fess d ateiy ty F had at that point The trial court noted sur of the fiactuaf issues indicated that there e may have been some sort of duty on the art of the priest for what he observed and upon which he commented outside of the confessionaB and outside of what the minor child may have told him in the confessional Hovvever the krial court also added So I have made my position perfectly clear ihet whiie the law may give the plaintiffs the right to inquire as to what went on in that confessional I not m going to hold the priest to any standard of having to say what went on and to violate his vows to the Church But I beli there are certain factual ve issues of things that he observed outside tne confessional which could conceivably create a duty on his part to ave taken more action than he took Thus while the trial court deniedthe mQkion for summary judgment on the failure to report issue it is clear that the ruiing enco a finding that he confession itself apassed was confidential and protected from disclasure Denial of Motion in Limine In denying the defendants motion in lamine thereby allawing the plaintiffs to present evidence of th confession the trial cou noted t6 appar ineonsistency in the t e nt s Children Code articles one provision s hat clergy is excepted from being taklnq mandatory r anythirag that is a co ccmmunication Art 603 porter for ntlai afd c 15 and the other andating r reportirg ding vitrstar ot any elaim of privifeged communication Arto 6Q9 However tne cou then noted that the privilege grantea by Code of Evidence Art 5 clearly bei tc the communieant such that it can be 1 ngs raivEd v by the communicant Thus the trial court found the testimony of the minor child regarding the confesslons was rel and ce as the holder of ihe privifege she vant iainly was entitled to waive it and testify When pressed by the defendants counsel as to whether that meant that the trial court was nolding that tne priest also had a dury to report the trial court stated Yes ak this point there may be some duty based on Art lY 609 The trial court also noted tteat its arlier suling also er auestioning of the itted priest concerning any other informa ac v hFin about ti ab outside of the ion uirea e se confessional The tr court althaugh dc t motiUn aGse c that I a see re mmented certainly recognize tl cor st vuh ree raest ss presenk and I know his s r saam c solution to that is gaing xa be that rae s t c tu say ai bo ny c 3roy g hii ai nfession The motion in limine was denied by jud dated February 22 2013 gment ANALYSIS DISCUSSION IS A PRIEST A MANDATORY REPORTER PURSl1ANT TO LOUISIANA S S CHILDREN CODE The parties maintain and argue that t6 pivotai issue underlying the dispuke of e whether the motion in limine was properly denied aiYOwing evidence to be su mitted concerning the occurrence and contents of a co between the minor daughter or fession and the priest is whether a Catholic or any priest member of the clergy is exempt from Louisiana Children sCode art 609 mandatory child abuse reporting requirements s pursuant to La Child Code art 603 wh hE facts allegedly giving rise to the e iS n duty to report were learned during the Sacran of Reconciliation ent Defendants maintain that under the fac of this case the priest is exempt from ts the mandatory reporter requirements Thus the ass tE the priest is shielded from rt at having to testify as to any facts lear aurir that conf Mor they mair ned ssion ver tain that since khe priest has no du to repark th c Q c reach of said duiy rena2r y re an ng any and a kescimany cr vide rec ce rdis gthe S of Rec a the ues a ncildati od c r r contents revealed therein irrelevant to th purported cause of action by plaintiffs against the priest and the Church for the breach of said duty IFor the folEawing reasens we agree and find the trial court erred Rules of Statutorv Construction retation r Tnte Very recen lytne Lauisiana Supreme Court reiterated the zul that apply whero s determining the true mean of a statute ng The fundamental questior n a cases of statutory ir is i a terpretatio legislative intent and the ascertainment of the reason or reasons khat prompted the legislature to enact the law L re Success ofB 99 on yter 0761 p 9 1 7S6 So 1122 1128 The ruies of statutory La 7 00 2d i2 construction are designed to ascertair and enforce the intent of the legislature Id Stogne v Stogner 9 p 5 7 739 So 3044 La 99 2d 762 766 Legislation is the salemn ex of le will and ression islative therefore interpretation of a I involv p a search for the v s im rily s legislature intent La Stat Rev 4 1 2Qa4 L Ciu art 2 Lockett a Code v State Dept of T ar L Q3 p 3 2 ans pment eue 1767 a 25 04 869 So 7 90 When a 9s ciear and unambiguous and its 2d aw application does not lead to absur cansequences the la shall be appiied v as written and no furthe interpreta r e made in search of the ion ay intent of the legislature La Civ art 9 Lackeft 03 at p 3 869 de Cc 1767 2d 91 So at 90 Conerly v State 97 p 3 La 7 714 So 0871 4 98 8 2d 709 710 iL The meaning and intent of a law is determined by considering the law in its entirety and all other laws on the same subject matter and placing a construction on the provision in question that is consistent with the express terms of the law and with the obvious intent of the legislature in enacting it Boyter 99 at p 9 756 So at 1129 Stogne 98 0761 2d 3044 at p 5 739 So at 766 The statute must therefore be applied and 2d interpreted in a manner that is consistent with logic and the presumed fair purpose and intention of the legislature in passing it Boyter 99 at 0761 p 9 756 So at 1129 This is because the rules of statutory 2d construction require that the general intent and purpose of the legislature in enacting the law must if possible be given effect Id Backhus v Transit Cas Co 549 So 283 289 La 1989 It is presumed the intent 2d of the legislature is to achieve a consistent body of law Stogner 98 3044 at p 5 739 So at 766 2d La Civ Code art 13 provides that where two statutes deal with the same subject matter they should be harmonized if possible Kennedy v Kennedy 96 96 p 2 li 699 So 351 358 on 0732 0741 La 25 96 2d rehearing It is a well rufe of statutory construction that all laws settled dealing with the same subject matter must be construed in pari materia La Civ art 17 1870 Reed v Washington Parish Police Jury 518 Code pertain to 1044 1047 La 1988 Statutes are ira pa material i matter when they relate to the same person or thing subject to the same class of persons or things or have the same purpose or p 3 object 2B Sutherland Stat Const 51 222 7th ed 2012 2d So the same Pociask v Moseley 2013 La 6 So 2013 WL 0262 13 28 3d 3287125 2013 Guided by these precepts vve find as foflows Pursuant to the clear language of La Child Code art 603 a of the cfergy which includes a priest is c 15 member not equired to report a comrnunication as defined rn the Code of confidential idence E Artic Si1 As defined in Art 511 a communication made to a clergyman is confidential when it is made privately and not intended for further disclosure Thus any communication had between the minor child and the priest during the minor child s confession with that priest is a confidential communication under La C art 511 It E is also equally clear that any alleged confession between the minor child and the priest 13 in this case is acommur as defined in Article 511 To the extent confidential ication that the plaintiffs attempt to imply that the minor child conversation with the priest in s this case was not truly a conPession because she was not confessing her own sin in the course of relaying the alleged abuse uve reject such argument as not supported by the facts We further note that this ar is belie by the plaintiffs own allegations ument in their petition and otherwise and the fact that the minor child chose to disclose the abuse to the priest during the Sacrament of Reconciliation We note that even the minor child in her deposition testified that she was under the clear impression that she was going to confession when she spoke with the priest about the alleged abuse Therefore the record clearly established that the communication was had while in confession therefore it is statutorily defined to be a confidential communication Given that the communication shared during confession is a confidential communication made to a clergyman pursuant to the dictates of La Child Code art c 15 603 the priest is not required to report the communication even if it concerns allegations of sexual abuse of a child Therefore it is axiomatic that the priest under these circumstances is not and cannot be a mandatory reporter Accordingly La Child Code art 609 which addresses mandatory reporters and mandates the reporting of any child abuse or negfect n any claim of otwithstanding privileged communication is simply and wholly inapplicable To interpret Art 609 as applicable to priests as mandatory reporters as argued by the plaintiffs and apparently as found by the trial court runs afoul of the rules of statutory construction because such interpretation would render the exemption in La Ch art 603 C c 15 meaningless Nevertheless a violation of the duty to report set forth in La Children s Code art 609 is subject only to criminal prosecution authorized by La R 1 A S 1 A 403 14 however the penalty for such a violation is negated by La R S B 403 14 when the communication is between a priest and his communicant In addition to comporting with the aforementioned principles of statutory construction we find not render a priest a further support for our conclusion mandatory reporter that the Children Code does s by reviewing the legislative history of the 14 statutory scheme for mandatory repca and discerning the legislative intent ting Member of the lergy was added a class fi andato rters by amendment ryepc to Lao Chil Code rt 60 n 2 a t1rr ta he list of e mandatory 3 1e i ne reporters Th iilon R deY as c foc ud stat k s haf priesi is nmt required to report a confdentia commwnica The 2 c to that article address r io Q3 m ents the reasons for the amendment and the lirrbitagions that were intended as follows The scope of the definition of mandatory reporters of chi abuse has d always recognized that priests rabbis pastors or other religious ministers typically provide counseling to members of their congregations and that many denominations consider those communications such as the confessiona to be sacrosanct and nondisc Respecting that policy e sab former law included religious ministers within the category of mental social health service practitioner but exempted them from mandatory reporting if the knowledge of abuse or neglect arose out of a confession or other sacred communication In 2003 the legis created a specia ature category for members of the c and continued exemption fo rgy confidentia communication the teim used by the EVidence Code Code of Evidence Artic 511 which governs communications to clergymen defines the privileged confidential communication as one made privately and not intended for further disclosure except to other persons present in furtherance of the purpose of the communication Members of the clergy who exclusively provide spiritual counseling are not required to report disclosures of abuse made in the course of a coa commi fdentiai nication However the legislature also reeognized that members of the clergy may also engage in other roles such as administrative and organizational work as well as provide supervision for other clergy or lay workers The exemption from report does noC extend to nonconFdentia ng communications given to a p or other minester uadrrrinist iest uring ative isory supen or secufar counseling or other type of conference La Children Code art 603 2003 Comments Emphasis added Thus it was clearly s envisioned and intended that members of the clergy were to be given a special exemption via the exclusion of confdential communications as defined in Code of Evidence art 511 unlike other mandatory reporte pursuant to La Ch ark 609 s C who may also possess communication ps as physicians psychoiogists and rivileges ch other mental health service practitioners but who must nonetheless report Social Thus it appears axiomatic that a pr wha learns of alfeged sexuai abuse est during confession Sacrament of Rec9neiiia s not a mandatory reporter and an 15 therefore not subjec t the aandaiilry eport requiremenzs of La Ch art 6Q9 4 c C Because we have othat thP p is r a cluded st i tadat ryreporker there can be no private or civil caus vf action agaizst hE for ar bseac of a statute inappficable to y ro him thias any evid or t py any Egard r occurrence of a nce timcny a ng confession or the subject m th is uh adr irrelevant and non er reaf alWy oissible t probative Accordingly the motion in fomine seeking to exciude all such evidence should have been granted We flnd the triaE court erred and hereby reverse that denial and grant said motion NO CAUSE OF ACTION However and more significantly we are compelled in this matter to exercise the authority granted us under La C art 9278 tc notoce on our own motion the P peremptory exception of no cause of action grant thQ same and dismiss the plaintiffs suit against the priest and the Church in its entirety In considering whether a petition states a cause of ac a court must accept all tion pleaded well facts in the petition as true The f the exception of no cause of n nctie of action is to test the legal sufficiency of the petition b determining whether he law affords a remedy on the facts of the pieading Evans vo Louisiana Bd of Parole 2053 2012 La App 1 Cir 6 pubiished u 7p13 Negliaent Advisina Ira addition to afleging that the priest breachecl a puroorted duty t eport hicfn we have found to lack me beca a priest under the f of kfnfs case is not a at se cts mandatory reporker tne piadntiffs petitior aileges that the priest wvas r in tt t egliger e advice he gave the child during car fessbon 4 V1We note that the record also contains evidence clearly establisheng that the wnfidentiality owed to all communications had during a confession is also included in the mandates of the Roman Catholic Churehlaw known as the Code of Canon Law pursuant to which a priest os preciuded from divulging information acquired through the Sacrament of Reconciliation Tne confidentiaiity attacfhed ko such information is cloaked by the Seal of Confession which is absolute and a vioiation thereof results in the ir stanYer excommunication of the priest tne most severe penalty knawn to the Church Because wre nave found that the priest is not a mandatory reporter under the iCivil Law we are neokher faced with nor need ouisiana ko decide whether any such law which may mandate reporting is n conflict with the First F dmenYs nmer Constitutionai mandate of separation petween Church and Siate 16 First we note that the Rlaii csYe n asws nar d we know of any under ffs t a Louisiana law for imposinq a d n a mernber the breach of which would ty iergy sustain a private Gr elvil cause ot acti e ote khat a cause of a in malpractice ticn is available gadns a physicdan L1r th ot heatltPa r ei serv9c rovide which rsrae 9 l may include elem of n m s 4 a e from the nts qaiaart o hat ty anates al professioe skilis and traininy ard dtls of entai nealth services and is satio rer adjudged by the standard of care established within frofession at anally Addit any such alleged neglig adlvice in th matter occurred during nt is the Sacrament of Reconciliation which v have already found to be a e confidential commuraication the hich disclosure of n is prohibit d Furthermore the giving of advice including the allegedly negligent spiritual advice in this matter is by definition voluntary suggestions based on personal opinion g based on the facts with wnich ven one is presented in an effort to guide and dirECt another decisions actions or s thoughts Such advice does not lead to imposition of a duty which wouid be impossible to dictate and much more so to monitor and adjaadye Spirituai advice is also subjective at best and not susee of being adiudged wrong Qr right Indeed tibiE as noted nd by th seci circuit ira Lanr v Davis i La Ap 92 s Cir 8 22j01 793 2a So 463 a case in ciergy nalpra based n a9le ta past tsce ations at rneglagently revealed perspr ant7 0 r i vvas disclos durir private al kEatl ora a fde format tf a g spiritual counseling in uphalding the sustaining of ara exceptian of r cause of action o A pastor who provides counseling services usuafiy does so under the a gis of his chureh and is not subjected to th s standards as a state e r licensed psychiatrist or sociai uvarfce Lfaittr relic iy nctiv ist based io s principles may g pastoral c therefr abstain from ide s ur re ruling on sucf roun9eling f khey cr an Excessive 2ntanglement st e a which is prohibited by the IFfrsfi Arri tIn shork courts r o donen r ave right to interpret religious doctrines Id at p 4 J93 So at 466 2d Cause of Action for Breach of Mandatorv Ite Provisions orter Moreover and rr significanEly we find w ompo to note that ever if we ore kant found the priest in trtlis matker o be a repr there is na civi9 ca of nandatory rter rse action and no civil remedy for any lie vio9ati of XYiat stat ed or te 17 Louisiana Chi Code ar 609A clearly and expressly provides Violation s dren 2 of the duties imposed upan a ma reporter subjects the offender to criminal datory prosecution authorazed by R I4 Louisiana Revis S 403 A dStatutes Title 14 is a criminal statute Specifically La S 403 t i4 provides that anyone who 1 A knowingly and willfully fails to report if requlred xo dc so under La Ch art 609 C shall upon conviction be fined not more than fve hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months or both There are no civil remedies provided in the entire statutoryscheme Accordingly we find there is no civil remedy and therefore no civil cause of action for an alleged breach of the mandatory reporter duty to report That remedy is expressly delegated to criminal law enforcement See Fontenot v Manpower Motivation Educ and Training Inc 594 So 998 999 La 2d 1000 App 3 Cir 1992 where the trial court judgmer s tsustaining the defendants exception of no cause of action and dismissing the suit ruling plaontiffs have no civil remedy under La R 23 which is a criminal statute was a Cf Keller v S 1691 rmed Aymond 98 La App 3 Cir 12 722 So 1224 1227 writs denied 99 843 98 23 2d 0199 and 99 La 4 742 So 551 and 552 cert denied 528 U 963 120 0219 99 1 2d S Ct S 397 145 LEd 310 1999 where the court held that the Electronic Surveillance 2d Act La R 15 et sequitur provides specific remedies in the form of criminal S 1301 fines and imprisonment for the willful interception disclosure and use of the communication and a provides specific civil remedies in the form of monetary so damages including attorney fees and punitive damages dgainst any person who intercepts discloses or uses such information lo such civil remedies are provided in this matter CONCWSION Therefore to the extent that the iriai court ruling left remaining any cause of s action against the priest for any reportable information to which he may have been privy outside of the confessional the judgment is hereby reversed For the foregoing reasons we hereby raise and grant the peremptory exception of no cause of actior based on our review of the petition and the absence of any 18 allegations supporting a viable civil cause of action against the priest and the Church or in this matter Accordingly the plaintiffs claims against the defendants the relators priest and the Church are hereby dismissed in their entarety with prejudice Costs of this grant of certiorari are assessea to tlhe plaintiffs THE TRIAL COURT UDGMENT ON TIiE NIOTION IN LIMINE IS REVERSED S AND THE MOTION IN LIMINE IS HEREBY GRANTED PEREMPTORY EXCEPTION OF NO CAUSE OF ACTIOIV RAISED AND GRANTED PLAINTIFFS CLAIMS AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS THE PRIEST AND THE RELATORS CHURCH ARE HEREBY DISMISSED 19 PARENTS OF MINOR CHILD STATE OF LOUISIANA VERSUS GEORGE J COURT OF APPEAL CHARLET JR DECEASED FIRST CIRCUIT CHARLET FUNERAL HOME INC THE PRIEST AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF 2013 CW 0316 THE DIOCESE OF BATON ROUGE KUHN J concurring This case presents a question considered before in People v Philips N Ct Y Gen Sess 1813 i whether a Roman Catholic Priest can in any case be justifiable e in revealing the secrets of a sacramental confession In that landmark case addressing freedom of religion and the priest evidentiary privilege defendant penitent Phillips and his wife were indicted for a misdemeanor of receiving stolen goods Upon being questioned by the authorities the person whose property had been stoien reported that he had received the restitution of his effects from the hands of his pastor Reverend Anthony Kohlmann William Sampson The Catholic Question in America 1813 reporting People v Philips supra Vol 1 p 5 When the Reverend Pastor was summoned and questioned he excused himself from answering questions touching the restitution of the goods and the persons involved Id When the matter was sent to the Grand Jury the Reverend Pastor was subpoenaed to attend but he respectfully declined to answer the questions The matter proceeded to trial where the Reverend Pastor again sought to be excused The ministerial basis for the Reverend Pastor s request that the Court excuse him from testifying is set forth in detail below in pertinent part Were I summoned to give evidence as a private individual in which capacity I declare most solemnly I know nothing relatively to the case before the court and to testify from those ordinary sources of information from which the witnesses present have derived theirs I should not for a moment hesitate and should even deem it a duty of conscience to declare whatever knowledge I might have as it cannot but be in the recollection of this same honorable Court I did not long since on a difference occasion because my holy religion teaches and commands me to subject to the higher powers in civil matters and to respect and obey them But if called upon to testify in quality of a minister of a sacrament in which my God himself has enjoined on me a perpetual and inviolable secrecy I must declare to this honorable Court that I cannot I must not answer any question that has a bearing upon the restitution in question and that it would be my duty to prefer instantaneous death or any temporal misfortuneI to act than disclose the name of the penitent in question rather were I For otherwise should become a traitor to my church to my sacred ministry and to my God In fine I should render myself guilty of eternal damnation Lest this open and free declaration of my religious principles should be construed into the slightest disrespect to this honorable Court I must beg leave again to be indulged in stating as briefly as possible the principles on which this line of conduct is founded I shall do this with the greater confidence as I am speaking before wise and enlightened judges who I am satisfied are not less acquainted with the leading doctrines of the Catholic Church than with the spirit of our mild and liberal Constitution The question now before the court is this Whether a Roman Catholic Priest can in any case be justifiable in revealing the secrets of sacramental confession I say he cannot the reason whereof must be obvious to everyone acquainted with the tenets of the Catholic Church respecting the sacraments For it is and ever was a tenet of the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ the divine Founder of Christianity has instituted seven sacraments neither more nor less It is likewise an article of our faith that the sacrament of penance of which sacramental confession is a component part is one of the said seven sacraments It is in fine the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the same divine Author of the sacraments has laid the obligation of a perpetual and inviolable secrecy on the minister of said sacrament This obligation of inviolable secrecy enjoined on the minister of the sacrament of penance is of divine institution as well as confession itself it naturally flows from the very nature of this sacrament and is so essentially connected with it that it cannot subsist without it For when the blessed Saviour of mankind instituted the sacrament of penance as the necessary means for the reconciliation of the sinner fallen from the grace of baptism by mortal sin he unquestionably did it with the intention that it should be frequented and resorted to be the repenting sinner Now it is self evident that if Christ our Lord had not bound down his minister in the sacrament of penance to a strict and perpetual silence it would be wholly neglected and abandoned for we want neither great learning nor deep sense to conceive that in that supposition the last of the temptations of a sinner would be to reveal all his weaknesses and most hidden thoughts to a sinful man like himself and one perhaps in many respects inferior to himself and whom he knows to be at full liberty to divulge and disclose whatever may be intrusted to him In short the thing speaks for itself Christ the incarnate Wisdom of God would have manifestly demolished with one hand what he was erecting with the other unless we believe that he has affixed by a divine and most sacred law the seal of inviolable secrecy to all and every part and circumstance of what is communicated to his minister through the channel of confession If therefore I or any other Roman Catholic Priest which God forbid and of which Church History during the long lapse of eighteen centuries scarce ever furnished an example if I say I should so far forget my sacred ministry and become so abandoned as to reveal either directly or indirectly any part of what has been entrusted to me in the sacred tribunal of penance the penalties to which I should thereby subject myself would be these 1 I should forever degrade myself in 5 the eye of the Catholic Church and I hesitate not to say in the eye of every man of sound principle the world would justly esteem me as a base and unworthy wretch guilty of the most heinous prevarication a 2 i priest can possibly perpetrate in breaking through the most sacred laws of his God of nature and of his Church 2dly According to the canons of the Catholic Church I should be divest of my sacerdotal character replaced in the condition of a Layman and forever disable from exercising any of the Ecclesiastical functions 3dly Conformably to the same canons I should deserve to be lodged in close confinement shut up between four walls to do penance during the remainder of my life 4thly Agreeably to the dictates of my conscience I should render myself guilty by such a disclosure of everlasting punishment in the life to come Having thus briefly stated to this honorable Court my reasons for not answering the questions of the Attorney General in the present instance I trust they will not be found trivial and unsatisfactory Id at p 8 1Z In this posture the exemption claimed by the Reverend Pastor was raised for the first time in this country Id at p 13 Counsel for the Reverend Pastor urged that the exemption was protected by the New York state constitution and by the common law With respect to the constitution he asserted the exemption was secured by the state s constitution protection of free exercise and emjoyment of religious profession and worship Id at p 30 Every thing essential to that object is by necessary implication secured by the constitution unless it leads to acts of licentiousness or to practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State Id at p 31 In support of the argument the rhetorical question was posed Is auricular confession dangerous to the peace or safety of the State Id at p 33 Regarding the common law the exemption was supported by the known principles that the law would not compel any man to answer a question that subjected him to a penalty or forfeiture impaired his civil rights or degraded disgraced or disparaged him Id at pp 14 and 36 Counsel urged that man was neither bound to accuse himself of a crime nor was he bound to subject himself to a penalty or forfeiture Id at p 36 William Sampson an Irish Protestant lawyer and political exile argued on behalf of the Clergy and Trustees of St Peter Roman Catholic Church He urged in part s This concurrence presents only a brief reference to some of the arguments of munsel and of the decision of the Phillips court 3 how our United States Constitution provided explicit authority to support the claimed exemption The constitution stands in need of no such illustrations It is simple and precise and unequivocal The people whose will it speaks were not of any one church but of many and various sects all of whom had suffered more or less in Europe for their religious tenets and many of whom had unrelentingly persecuted each other The catholics it is true bore the hardest burthen of all but the others would be very sorry I believe to put aside our constitution and resume their ancient condition And God forbid it should be so Id at p 77 The constitution is remediate of many mischiefs and must be liberally construed It is also declaratory and pronounces toleration If its authors are yet alive or if looking down from a happier abode they have now any care of mortal things how must they rejoice to see it flourish to see that all these churches are but so many temples of one only living God from whence his worshippers no longer sally forth with tusk and horn to gore each other but meet like sheep that are of one shepherd but of another fold Id at pp 91 92 Finding merit in the positions advanced by the priest and the Catholic Church the Philips decision upheld the exemption claimed finding that the witness and his z brethren were protected by the laws and constitution of this country in the full and free exercise of their religion Philips addressed the enquiry at hand as an important one to all religious denominations and because paraphrasing the Court eloquent s findings would subtract from its import I set forth the following excerpts of the Court s decision The question then is whether a Roman catholic priest shall be compelled to disclose what he has received in confession in violation of his conscience of his clerical engagements and of the canons of his church and with a certainty of being stripped of his sacred functions and cut off from religious communion and social intercourse with the denomination to which he belongs which This is an important enquiry i is important to the church upon t it has a particular bearing It is important to all religious denominations because it involves a principle which may in its practical operation affect them all z Mayor De Witt Clinton authored the opinion of the court 3 Because there was no evidence against the defendants in the Phillips case they were acquitted Id at p 114 4 It is a general rule that every man when legally called upon to testify as a witness must relate all he knows This is essential to the administration of civil and criminal justice But to this rule there are several cannot testify against each exceptions a husband and wife for personal aggressions other except nor can an attorney or counselor be forced to reveal the communications of his client nor is a man obliged to answer any question the answering of which may oblige him to accuse himself of a crime or subject him to penalties or punishment Id at pp 96 98 Whether a witness is bound to answer a question which may disgrace or degrade him or stigmatize him by the acknowledgement of offences which have been pardoned or punished or by the confession of sins or vices which may affect the purity of his character and the respectability of his standing in society without rendering him obnoxious to punishment is a question involved in much obscurity and about which there is a variety of doctrine and a collision of adjudications After carefully examining this subject we are of opinion that such a witness ought not to be compelled to answer Id at p 99 n I the case now pending if we decide that the witness shall testify we prescribe a course of conduct by which he will violate his spiritual duties subject himself to temporal loss and perpetrate a deed of infamy There can be no doubt but that the witness does consider that his answering on this occasion would be such a high handed ofFence against religion that it would expose him to punishment in a future state and it must be conceded by all that it would subject him to privations and disgrace in this world It cannot therefore for a moment be believed that the mild and just principles of the common Law would place the witness in such a dreadful predicament in such a horrible dilemma between perjury and false he swearing If he tells the truth he violates his prevaricates he violates his judicial oath ecclesiastical oath If Whether he lies or whether he testifies the truth he is wicked and it is impossible for him to act without acting against the laws of rectitude and the light of conscience The only course is for the court to declare that he shall not testify or act at all And a court prescribing a different course must be governed by feelings and views very different from those which enter into the composition of a just and enlightened tribunal that looks with a propitious eye upon the religious feelings of mankind and which dispenses with an equal hand the universal and immutable elements of justice Id at pp 03 102 But this is a great constitutional question which must not be solely decided by the maxims of the common law but by the principles of our government upon the ground of the constitution of the social compact and of civil and religious liberty 5 Religion is an affair between God and man and not between man and man The laws which regulate it must emanate from the Supreme Being not from human institutions Established religions deriving their authority from man oppressing other denominations prescribing creeds of orthodo and punishing non are repugnant to the first ry conformity principles of civil and political liberty and in direct collision with the divine spirit of Christianity Although no human legislator has a right to meddle with religion yet the history of the worid is a history of oppression and tyranny over the consciences of inen And the sages who formed our constitution with this instructive lesson before their eyes perceived the indispensable necessity of applying a preventative that would forever exclude the introduction of calamities that have deluged the worid with tears and with blood and the following section was accordingly engrafted in our state constitution And whereas we are required by the benevolent principles of rational liberty not only to expel civil tyranny but also to guard against that spiritual oppression and intolerance wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked princes have scourged mankind t convention doth his further in the name and by the authority of the good people of this state ordain determine and declare that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever hereafter be allowed within this state to all mankind Provided that the liberty of conscience hereby granted shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state A provision conceived in a spirit of the most profound wisdom and the most exalted charity ought to receive the most liberal construction Although by the constitution of the United States the powers of congress do not e beyond certain enumerated objects yet to prevent the end danger of constructive assumptions the following amendment was adopted Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof In this country there is no alliance between church and state no established religion no tolerated religion for toleration results from establishment but religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution and consecrated by the social compact It is essential to the free exercise of a religion that its ordinances shall be administered that its ceremonies as well as its essentials should be protected The sacraments of a religion are its most important elements It has been contended that the provision of the constitution which speaks of practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state excludes this case from the protection of the constitution and authorized the interference of this tribunal to coerce the witness In order to sustain this position it must be clearly made out that the concealment observed in the sacrament of penance is a practice inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state 6 There is in fact no secret known to the priest which would be communicated othenvise than by confession this communication and no evil resuits from on the contrary it may be made the instrument of great good The language of the constitution is emphatic and striking it speaks of acts of licentiousness of practices inconsistent with the tranquility and safety of the state it has reference to something actually not negatively injurious To acts committed not to acts omitted offences of a deep dye and of an extensively injurious nature It would be stretching it on the rack so say that it can possibly contemplate the forbearance of a Roman catholic priest to testify what he has received in confession or that it could ever consider the safety of the community involved in this question To assert this as the genuine meaning of the constitution would be to mock the understanding and to render the liberry of conscience a mere illusion It would be to destroy the enacting clause of the proviso and to render the exception broader than the rule to subvert all the principles of sound reasoning and overthrow all the convictions of common sense If a religious sect should rise up and violate the decencies of life by practicing their religious rites in a state of nakedness by following incest and a community of wives If the Hindoo should attempt to introduce the burning of widows on the funeral piles of their deceased husbands or the Mahometan his plurality of wives or the Pagan his bacchanalian orgies or human sacrifices If a fanatical sect should spring up and pull up the pillars of society or if any attempt should be made to establish the inquisition then the licentious acts and dangerous practices contemplated by the constitution would exist and the hand of the magistrate would be rightfully raised to chastise the guilty agents But until men under pretence of religion act counter to the fundamental principles of morality and endanger the well being of the state they are to be protected in the free exercise of their religion If they are in error or if they are wicked they are to answer to the Supreme Being not to the unhallowed intrusion of frail fallible mortals We speak of this question not in a theological sense but in its legal and constitutional bearings Although we differ from the witness and his brethren in our religious creed yet we have no reason to question the purity of their motives or to impeach their good conduct as citizens They are protected by the laws and constitution of this country in the full and free exercise of their religion and this court can never countenance or authorize the application of insult to their faith or of torture to their consciences Id at pp 108 114 Two hundred years after this landmark case was decided the priest and the Roman Catholic Church invoke the same protected exercise of religion in the matter before this court And the law protecting freedom of religion remains the same Thus our state legislature has accordingly provided that a priest is not required to report a s 7 j confidential communication under Louisiana Chiidren Code article 609 mandatory s s child abuse reporting requirements Premised on our nation bill of rights the s provisions of La Ch Code arts 603 609 and La C art 511 collectively c 15 E acknowledge that the priest is not required to report acommunication confidential made by a person to a priest To subject a Catholic priest to such mandatory reporting would be clearly violative of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof The first of the two Clauses commonly called the Establishment Clause commands a separation of church and state The second the Free Exercise Clause requires government respect for and noninterference with the religious beliefs and practices of our Nation people Cutter v Wilkinson 544 U s S 709 719 125 S Ct 2113 2120 161 L Ed 2d 1020 2005 These two Clauses while expressing complementary values are frequently in tension Locke v Davey 540 S U 712 124 S 1307 158 L 1 The basic purposes of these Clauses Ct 2d Ed 2004 however are to assure the fullest possible scope of religious liberly and tolerance for all School Dist of Abington Township v Schempp 374 U 203 83 S 1560 S Ct 10 L 844 1963 concurring opinion of Justice Goldberg joined by Justice 2d Ed b Harlan These statutes cannot be interpreted without contemplating their Constitutional underpinnings 5 Likewise La Const art 1 8 provides NO law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof 6 Relevant to this point is the following pertinent excerpt from A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke 1689 The toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the genuine reason of mankind that it seems monstrous for men to be so blind as not to perceive the necessity and advantage of it in so clear a light owever Hthat some may not color their spirit of persecution and unchristian cruelty with a pretence of care of the public weal and observation of the laws I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other It is the duty of the civil magistrate by the impartial execution of equal laws to secure unto all the people in general and to every one of his subjects in particular the just possession of these things belonging to this life If anyone presume to violate the 8 Notably the rote of religion in American life has been officially acknowledged by all three branches of government from at least 1789 Van Orden v Perry 545 U S 677 686 125 S Ct 2854 2861 162 L Ed 2d 607 2005 citing Lynch v Donnelly 465 U 668 104 S 1355 79 L 604 1984 Our United States Supreme S Ct 2d Ed Court observed in School Dist of Abington Township v Schempp 374 U 203 S 83 S 1560 10 L 844 1963 Ct 2d Ed It is true that religion has been closely identified with our history and government The fact that the Founding Fathers believed devotedly that there was a God and that the unalienable rights of man were rooted in Him is clearly evidenced in their writings from the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution itself It can be truly said therefore that today as in the beginning our national life reflects a religious people who in the words of Madison are earnestly praying as in duty bound that the Supreme Lawgiver of the Universe guide them into every measure which may be worthy of his blessing Id at 212 83 S 213 Ct 1560 Our Constitution acknowledges this country religious foundation by the use of the s phrase in the Year of our Lord The Declaration of Independence opens with references to Nature God and the Creator and closes with an appeal to the s Supreme Judge of the World and divine Providence Amar Akhil R s America laws of public justice and equity established for the preservation of those things his presumption is to be checked by the fear of punishment consisting of the deprivation or diminution of those civil interests or goods which otherwise he might and ought to enjoy In the second place the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate because his power consists only in outward force but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind without which nothing can be acceptable to God In the third place the care of the salvation of inen souls cannot belong to the s magistrate In the princes of the world are variety and contradiction of opinions in religion wherein the as much divided as in their secular interest one country alone would be in the right and all the rest of the world put under an obligation of following their princes in the ways that lead to destruction happiness or misery to the places of their nativity en M would owe their eternal These considerations seem unto me sufficient to conclude that all the power of civil government relates only to men civil interests is confined to the care of the s things of this world and hath nothing to do with the worid to come 9 Unwritten Constitution the precedents and principles we live by New York Basic Books 2012 Print I acknowledge that the free exercise of religion is not without some government restriction Where people actions are found to be subversive of good order s limitations on such action have been upheld Braunfeld v Brown 366 U 599 603 S 04 81 S 1144 1961 But here as recognized in the Philips case the PriesYs Ct e compliance with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church i that he not divulge e any information obtained during the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not in anyway subversive of good order and does not otherwise pose any substantial threat to public safety peace or order on the contrary the Church doctrines are the foundation of s these things Because the alleged actions of the Priest and the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Baton Rouge are protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment plaintiffs have not set forth a cause of action against them Accordingly I concur in the majority sopinion The First Prayer of the Continental Congress 1774 The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives petitioned the Lord our Heavenly Father high and mighty King of kings Lord of lords O God of wisdom and Jesus Christ Thy Son and our Savior to direct the councils of this honorable assembly to enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation 8 In Braunfeld 366 U at 604 the Court noted that Thomas Jefferson articulated this general point S that legislative power may reach people actions when they are found to be in violation of important s social duties in stating as follows Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship that the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American which declared that their legislature should people make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof thus building a wall of separetion between church and State Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend Yo restore to man all his natural rights convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties 8 Works of Thomas Jefferson 113 The Braunfeld Court also referenced the words of Oliver Ellsworth Constitutional Convention and later Chief Justice who wrote a member But while I assert the rights of religious liberty I would not deny that the civil power has a right in some cases to interfere in matters of religion It has a right to prohibit and punish gross immoralities and impieties because the open practice of these is of evil example and detriment Emphasis added Written in the Connecticut Courant Dec 17 1787 as quoted in 1 Stokes Church and State in the United States 535 Braunfeld 366 U at 604 81 S at 1146 S 605 Ct 10 of the

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