Day: December 11, 2007

Breaking pastoral confidentiality

Pastor Neil Schori courtesy Fox News A pastor appeared on Fox network’s Greta Van Susteren show Monday, and revealed that the missing 4th wife of ex-cop Drew Peterson told him that Peterson admitted killing his 3rd wife. 

 Former Westbrook Christian Church pastor Neil Schori told “On the Record” that he was “reeling inside” after his conversation with Stacy Peterson over coffee in August.

— Fox News

So, here’s the question —

Would you appear on national media and reveal a conversation like this?

Courts have rule repeatedly that clergy-client conversations are privileged and confidential.  But do clergy have higher obligations to report such conversations and/or take action themselves?

Several years ago I was an associate at a large church.  A woman confided to the pastor that she was being abused and needed help.  The pastor helped her freeze the couple’s bank account, involved the police, and arranged a lawyer for the woman.  Sadly, the allegations were totally fabricated and the husband had to hire his own attorney to untangle the legal mess the pastor had put him in. 

What are our obligations and responsibilities in situations like this?  I’d welcome your comments.