Free Speech

Minister Not Liable for Disclosing and Condemning Deceased's Suicide in Funeral Homily

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From Hullibarger v. Archdiocese of Detroit, decided yesterday by the Michigan Court of Appeals (Presiding Judge Redford, joined by Judges Borrello and Tukel):

Plaintiff's son committed suicide in early December 2018, but his family kept the manner of his death from the public. Plaintiff's pastor, defendant Father Don LaCuesta, officiated at the funeral and during his homily revealed the suicide of plaintiff's son to the public. He then proceeded to preach about suicide as a grave sin and specifically about how it endangered the immortal soul of plaintiff's son. The trial court concluded that Father LaCuesta's conduct was protected by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine, and the negligent hiring, supervision and retention allegation, Count Three, was barred for other reasons as well, and thus granted summary disposition to defendants as to all claims. Finding no error in the circuit court's reasoning, we affirm its order….

[R]esolution of plaintiff's claims would require a decision regarding matters of church doctrine and polity and, therefore, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine applied to bar plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff argues her complaint does not seek resolution of religious issues. Rather, plaintiff asserts her claims concern an agreement by Father LaCuesta to preside over the funeral service for her son—for which Father LaCuesta was compensated through a donation—in accordance with requests from the Hullibarger family regarding the content of the funeral service. But the actual adjudication of each of plaintiff's claims would require an inquiry into religious doctrine and practices regarding sermons and funeral services, suicide, as well as why Father LaCuesta chose the words that he did, and personnel issues regarding hiring practices of the Catholic Church….

[As to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim,] to find that the content of Father LaCuesta's homily at the funeral regarding the suicide of plaintiff's son was "extreme" or "outrageous" would require the trial court to evaluate Catholic philosophy and doctrine regarding suicide, and whether Father LaCuesta complied with it. It would also require evaluation of procedures for developing and providing religious sermons, which are unequivocally ecclesiastical in nature….

Plaintiff's misrepresentation claim alleged, in part, that Father LaCuesta agreed to deliver a positive, uplifting sermon but, instead, spoke about "the nature of her son's death," and how it constituted a sinful act that brought into question "her son's eternal salvation." Plaintiff's invasion of privacy claim alleged that Father LaCuesta disclosed the cause of her son's death, Father LaCuesta should have known the cause of death "was a personal matter and not of public concern," and disclosure of the cause of death "was not consistent with any legitimate pastoral duty and/or concern to the public." … [E]valuation of [these] claims requires an inquiry into the decision-making process behind drafting and giving religious sermons, as well as into Catholic doctrine and teachings regarding suicide, and, once again, the reasons Father LaCuesta chose to deliver the words he did. As stated earlier, courts should not evaluate sermons delivered at  religious services….

Under her claim of vicarious liability, plaintiff alleged, in part, that Father LaCuesta was under the supervision and control of the Archdiocese of Detroit and he "act[ed] in his special role of priest and adviser, using the premises of the Archdiocese's parish," and the "trust, power and the authority his position granted him." And, under her claim for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention, plaintiff alleged that Father LaCuesta was "unfit and/or incompetent to perform" his pastoral duties and that the Archdiocese of Detroit knew, or should have known, that Father LaCuesta previously engaged in similar conduct as that alleged in plaintiff's complaint….

[But] "[t]he Roman Catholic Church is an hierarchical organization and the Bishop's power to make assignments of ministers to a parish is certainly a matter of ecclesiastical polity in which the courts may not interfere." … The trial court thus properly dismissed plaintiff's claim involving the hiring, supervision and retention of Father LaCuesta, as those decisions by the Church are constitutionally protected…. Furthermore, plaintiff's claims of vicarious liability and negligent hiring, supervision, and retention fail because Father LaCuesta's actions were constitutionally protected, and there can be no liability for a principal if the agent has committed no actionable wrong.

Seems right to me. Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.

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  1. Kirkland bait.

    I think the Father is likely to find this crass behavior, while not actionable here, will be judged negatively in another place.

    1. I agree! Kirkland would agree also.

      1. I don’t think Kirkland thinks there is any other place, in all likelihood he thinks something ugly about anyone who does.

      2. ” Kirkland would agree also.”

        No.

        He does not believe there is “another place” or a presiding judge.

    2. Doctrine is what it is.
      Don’t like it? Go to another church or just stay home.

      1. Yes. But.

        Rather, plaintiff asserts her claims concern an agreement by Father LaCuesta to preside over the funeral service for her son—for which Father LaCuesta was compensated through a donation—in accordance with requests from the Hullibarger family regarding the content of the funeral service.

        To me the question is what the priest agreed to. If he agreed not to talk about the suicide, or bring issues of salvation into the homily, then he should have abided by that, doctrine or no. I don’t think he can get out of the deal by claiming church doctrine wouldn’t allow him to stick to it. (And does the church really require that a priest officiating at the funeral of a suicide go into all that? Seems like a not-very-complex question.)

        to find that the content of Father LaCuesta’s homily at the funeral regarding the suicide of plaintiff’s son was “extreme” or “outrageous” would require the trial court to evaluate Catholic philosophy and doctrine regarding suicide,

        Not if LaCuesta had agreed not to make that part of the homily.

        1. Bernard,
          I agree with you. If he even implied that he would not bring up the cause of death, then he should not have mentioned it. He had his sermon the following Sunday to offer his instruction.

          Absent an agreement with the family, I have to agree with the court as the matter is very longstanding in Catholic philosophy and dogma. None of that says that LaCuesta’s behavior was prudential, courteous or in accord with his priestly duty to console.

          1. “very longstanding in Catholic philosophy and dogma”

            No, it’s not. Or at the most charitable, it has changed significantly.

            “Her husband had committed suicide; he jumped from the bridge into the river. And she wept. She said, “But I am a sinner, a poor woman. But my poor husband! He is in hell. He committed suicide, and suicide is a mortal sin. He is in hell”. And the Curé of Ars said, “But wait a moment, ma’am, because between the bridge and the river, there is the mercy of God”. But to the very end, to the very end, there is the mercy of God.” — Pope Francis, 2019

            1. And your authority is?
              And an statement of compassion by a Pope is not the same as accepted dogma.

              1. No? Is the Pope not the Vicar of Christ upon the earth, with knowledge inviolable of the word of Christ?

                “….but the title Vicar of Christ is more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of the commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from Him.”

                https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/vicar-of-christ

                1. Two points…
                  First, the pope’s statement is not denying that suicide is a mortal sin. He is recalling someone noting that Catholics preach that redemption is possible if there is genuine remorse. So in the moments between performing a suicidal act and the consequent death, sins — even mortal ones — may be forgiven. Whether this came up in the homily that sparked the case is not clear.
                  Second, the pope while a clear authority on Catholic doctrine, is not infallible in his normal teaching. It’s only as part of a formal process (whose bounds are alas not well defined) where infallibility comes into play. So the doctrine that Mary ascended to heaven physically has been asserted infallibly. The doctrine that only men can be priests, maybe. But preaching or normal encyclicals are just one — very eminent — person’s view.

                  I’ve heard it suggested, that the kind of Jesuitical slicing and dicing that seems to be prevalent in Catholic theology, is a good preparation for the law — which is why we have so many Catholics on the Supreme Court.

                2. Worsmithing mere wordsmithing

          2. <I"If he even implied that he would not bring up the cause of death, then he should not have mentioned it. He had his sermon the following Sunday to offer his instruction."

            I go further and consider this something that should have been decided under contract law. If he contractually promised not to reveal the suicide, then that means that he can’t publicly discuss it the next Sunday, either.

            I think the funeral director should have been sued here because the parents clearly thought a contract existed that the priest clearly thought didn’t — and that’s the fault of the funeral director who was the intermediary.

            But there is a larger question here: Doesn’t Catholic theology preclude burying a suicide victim on sacred ground, i.e. in the cemetery? So where were they planning on burying him?

            On a larger scale, this is an issue of fraud: *IF* the Priest seriously believed in the Catholic theology about suicide, then he should never have agreed to conduct the funeral in the first place. (He should have said that he wasn’t able to do it…)

            In other words, the fraud is in his performing religious rituals which his religion prohibits him performing….

            1. ” If he contractually promised ”
              neither you nor I have any way to know that. Certainly the court was not convinced.
              While I see no cause of action against the funeral director, s/he should have counseled the family that its request for a funeral mass was unwise.
              As for burial, here again you have no knowledge of where the fellow was buried or even if he was buried rather than cremated.

              Your concept of fraud is bizarre, although as I wrote in other posts, I am surprised that the priest consented to the funeral mass. Having said that, the civil authorities will NOT may any such decision. That is left to the presiding bishop.

              1. They tried that defense in the sexual abuse cases.

                Last I heard, it wasn’t working…

                1. Special Ed,
                  Different cases, different findings, completely unrelated to this matter except for your anti-Catholic animus.
                  Another example of your pointless conflation and distortion of the facts.

                  1. Dumb Don,

                    It’s people like you who *create* an anti-Catholic animus — and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that you really are an educational bureaucrat, it’s said that administratum is the densest material in the known universe.

                    My faith believed in Exodus 22:18, still does, yet I have no problem saying what we did in Danvers (not Salem) back in 1692 was both wrong and un-Christian.

                    And for what it is worth, belief that Canon law supersedes civil law is the very thing that created both the sexual abuse *and* created corporate liability for it. It’s why the Catholics have had to sell so many of their cherished churches.

                    Might I suggest you read Luke 20:25, Mark 12:17, or Matthew 20:21?

                    1. Ed,
                      I see that you are likely one of those folks who believe that Judas had no choice but to betray the Christ.

                      I don’t need your Bible beating to undrstand when the courts will and will not overrule canon law. Your concept of “never” is manifestly incorrect as this case illustrates.

  2. “Plaintiff’s pastor, defendant Father Don LaCuesta, officiated at the funeral and during his homily revealed the suicide of plaintiff’s son to the public. He then proceeded to preach about suicide as a grave sin and specifically about how it endangered the immortal soul of plaintiff’s son. ”

    Christ, what an asshole.

    1. Finally something we agree on. Father LaCuesta is a world class asshole.

      1. And not a good Christian, as well…

        1. Speak for yourself, Ed.

          1. You’re defending this sort of intentional cruelty?!?

            1. I don’t condemn others especially when I do not know all the facts. However, that is easy for you.

  3. “E]valuation of [these] claims requires an inquiry into the decision-making process behind drafting and giving religious sermons, as well as into Catholic doctrine and teachings regarding suicide”

    Does ‘uplifting’ mean something different in Catholic doctrine?

    I mean, what if he had not committed suicide, if the Father knew this and yet claimed he did in the funeral (or heck, just in a sermon about a live guy people in the church knew). No defamation because it would mean the court’s ‘”E]valuation of [these] claims requires an inquiry into the decision-making process behind drafting and giving religious sermons?’

  4. I always come away from these things wanting to know more.

    In this case was the priest actually asked not to disclose the cause of death and did he agree? Judging by the decision I’d guess not.

    1. “Plaintiff’s invasion of privacy claim alleged that Father LaCuesta disclosed the cause of her son’s death, Father LaCuesta should have known the cause of death “was a personal matter and not of public concern,”

      I think the ‘should have known’ implies he made no such explicit agreement.

    2. The priest was acting in his magisterial duty of the Catholic priesthood. Suicide is considered within Catholic dogma to be a most grave sin. It is his duty to instruct Catholics about that dogma.

      It would be surprising (but we don’t know) if he made and then violated a promise to the parents of the deceased. That would be sinful on his part.

      1. It is his duty to instruct Catholics about that dogma.

        No doubt, but at the funeral? Is that routine?

        1. “Is that routine?”
          I don’t know, but it would be an opportune time, though not something to console the family.

          1. The funeral IMO is mostly about the family and their grief, not scoring theological points and saying the kid is going to hell. IMO. Can’t picture our rabbi doing something like this, but on the other hand he is hired by an elected board and answerable to the community rather than a religious hierarchy.

            1. Same thing in the Protestant Church — and any minister who pulled a stunt like this would be voted out at the next church meeting.

              But I still keep coming back to how the very theology which the Priest is hiding behind should have precluded him from conducting the funeral in the first place. In other words, his religious beliefs are protected as they exist, but when he doesn’t follow them and *then* attempts to seek refuge behind them?!?!?

              1. Actually your theological analysis is full of holes. The priest did not know that a merciful God did not intervene. You just assume that with no evidence beyond anti-Catholic animus.
                No matter what happened between the deceased and G_d, the instruction of the priest does not appear to be incorrect, although it was uncharitable. The sermon could have been delivered on the following Sabbath.

      2. “It is his duty to instruct Catholics about that dogma.”

        The Archdiocese of Detroit disagrees that it was appropriate.

        So does the Father, afterwards.

        https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/priest-was-wrong-condemn-son-s-suicide-funeral-family-s-n1086481

        1. It is his duty, whether at the funeral is a different matter. At mass the following Sunday would have been better, and he need not have given the person’s name, although any parishoner could have discovered the name
          It would be nice Bob if, for a change, you were to relay all of the facts.

          1. I won’t look at or answer Behar as I expect someone else to do so.

            1. The new mute button is a blessing.

          2. “It would be nice Bob if, for a change, you were to relay all of the facts.”

            I gave you a link to an article about the facts. It says the Archdiocese said it was not his duty AT A FUNERAL and he was removed from funeral duties. The priest apologized and said it was wrong.

            What relevant facts did I leave out?

            1. I don’t say this much but Bob’s right here.

              1. Something something a stopped clock is right twice a day….

          3. One sometimes has multiple and conflicting duties.

            A Priest may have a duty to condemn suicide, but he also has duties to his congregation, including those who didn’t commit the suicide…

            1. Never forget that Johnathan Edwards was eventually fired…

              1. Which matters how?

                1. If you knew what happened in Northampton, you’d understand….

            2. And his duty to the congregation is to remind the parishoners that suicide is a grave sin on many levels.

              1. Johnathan Edwards did such a good job of warning people about sin that the young people started committing suicide so that they would be dead before they could sin.

                NB: Suicide was not considered a sin, but was something the community was very much concerned about.

                And before another ad hominum, remember that the Puritans viewed pre-marital sex the way that the Catholics view suicide — that’s why the young people were committing suicide — before they could sin.

                1. ” Suicide was not considered a sin, but was something the community was very much concerned about.”
                  Maybe not in your church, since the suicide was predestined to do it.

        2. “The Archdiocese of Detroit disagrees that it was appropriate.”

          I don’t know if it was appropriate or not, I know I wouldn’t trust the Archdiocese of Detroit to tell me if it was day or night outside.

  5. The better remedy is a bad Yelp review of the priest. Effective. Cheap. Less traumatic to both parties. Volokh is oblivious to the remedies of the outside world. No lawyer income in them.

    1. There should be a dcreening process. This is not loser pays. Thid is hopelessloser pays. To deter.

      The clerk reads the lawsuit. Hedeclares it frivolous or vexatious or hopeless. For example, it violates a policy. The plaintiff must thenpost a bond of the costs of both dides, forfeit if he insists on filing, and loses.

    2. Do people really look to Yelp in choosing their Roman Catholic clergy?

      How odd

      1. The do when choosing a doctor. Bad Yelp reviews are not a bad thing. The doctor with a bad review will not get the totally undesirable patients who have to look for doctors on the internet, because they have been kicked out of all other practices.

        Devout Catholics will like the bad Yelp review of these apostates, and be drawn to this priest for pastoral services. He may get a promotion in the Church for standing up for traditional values, against the Argentinian Commie who is now the Pope, and a disgrace.

        In this instance, Yelp would serve as a matching service, rather than as a cancel service.

        1. “Argentinian Commie”? I prefer “warmed-over Peronista.”

      2. What would a good review look like?

        “Respectful homily, would die here again if I could.”

        1. The bad review would attract traditional, devout Catholics. Put the content of the lawsuit should be the bad review.q

      3. Actually, one generally needs permission to join a parish not in the territory where you live, missionary parishes, or one that is not designated as serving you language group. There are parishes that serve non-English speaking communities.
        But then I suspect that yours is actually a question only asked sarcastically.

        1. As I understand it, the Bishop has the unquestioned authority to assign any Priest to any parish he damn well pleases, and everyone is expected to quietly accept that. Likewise the authority to re-assign a popular Priest to somewhere else.

          Of course I say that as a member of a faith that would never tolerate that…

          1. Mr Ed,
            The bishop does have that authority over priests in non-missionary orders. But the matter being discussed was NOT whether the bishop could reassign the priest, but whether the family could arbitrarily register in any other parish in the diocese.
            Tolerate anything that you wish, but read carefully and get your facts straight.

            1. Moron Don,

              “one generally needs permission to join a parish not in the territory where you live”

              That doesn’t specify as a parishioner, and accurately states the CLERGY selection policy of most Protestant churches — the minister is ordained but needs the permission of the local church to become its pastor.

              Are you saying that Catholics actually need *permission* to go to a different Catholic church?

              Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!?!

              1. Special Ed,
                What Protestants do has zero. And how priests are assigned is also irrelevant. But then you love to bring in irrelevancies
                Yes, I am saying that generally a Catholic may not join any parish in the diocese. They can go where they wish any time they wish; however, they cannot join anywhere they wish without permission.
                Can you see the difference?

                1. Distinction without a difference because which one are they donating to — the one they are attending…

                  1. “Distinction without a difference ”
                    Again, you speak about matters about which you know nothing.

  6. I agree that this is right as a legal matter. At the same time, the pastor deserves to lose his job for such insensitivity and the family would be entirely justified in using their own free speech rights to hold the Diocese accountable for the actions of their employees.

    1. Of course the family can send letters to the local newspaper. Post their disparaging remarks on FB (if Zuckerberg will let them) and Twitter and/or simply move to another parish. They might also get a private apology from the bishop.
      The pastor might, at most, be transferred. But given the shortage of priests, even that is not likely.

      1. And extend their personal grief by making it an even more public circus?

        1. Good point. I did not know about the suicide until the news of the lawsuit.

        2. Circus, neither you nor I know because we were not there.

      2. Ever hear of something known as “breach of contract”???

        1. Special Ed,
          You know nothing of any contract in this case. And the court that rendered judgement knows far better about that topic than you ever will.

          1. Moron Don honestly believes that Priests are exempt from Contract Law?

            I’m now starting to understand the concern about the JFK election…

            1. Ed,
              I did not say that, dummy. You can’t post here without lying. But everyone knows that.
              I said that the cognizant court ruled that there was no breach of contract. The judge knows far more than you. And I also said that you do not know that there was any contract beyond the priest agreeing to say a funeral mass, which he did.

              Get real Ed. You generally spout off about things that you know little about, this one takes the cake.

              1. Pray tell — how could the court have “ruled that there was no breach of contract” when neither the word “contract” doesn’t appear in the opinion? (Control-F is a lovely function.)

                Maybe the issue wasn’t raised, but that’s a far cry from what you purport.

                “Lying” involves misstating facts — and it is you, not I, who did that…

                1. Ed,
                  The court did not use the word “contract because there was no contract.
                  You lie perpetually. You misstate and make up facts. But then you were taught that in an Education Department

    2. Nasty Democrat, hate speech.

  7. Wait a minute, the Catholic Church has by far the largest market share of religious denomination enterprises in the United States. It has a history of censoring and controlling speech at its platforms. Shouldn’t we require common carrier status for them (especially if, for example, they had gone through with the plan to bar the President of the United States from Communion)?

    1. These scam artists are immunized by the lawyer profession, the most toxic occupation in the country. This is the greatest scam ever. Give us your money now. You will be rewarded after your death.

    2. The liberal hierarchs in the U. S. never seem to get that they’re not going to appease the Queen Amaltheas of the world.

    3. How about an equal time law instead? For every condemnation of Joe Biden, they must also warn Donald Trump.

  8. I’m a bit surprised that most of you are lining up with the plaintiffs here, if not on the legal issue than on the moral one.

    The most charitable narrative is that they wanted the look and feel of Catholic funeral mass but demanded that a ceremony with specific religious purposes – including asking forgiveness of sins, and prioritizing the salvation of the deceased’s soul and the instruction of those still living over some individuals’ desire to maintain a fiction about how their child died – and replace it with a secular celebration of life ceremony. I’m a non-believer and much prefer the secular ceremony myself, but it’s hypocritical to want the robes, crucifix and stained glass without the religion. And from the summary the priest is on very firm ground religiously.

    The less charitable narrative is they’re monetizing their child’s death and creating far more publicity and a few minutes of blunt truth from a old-fashioned priest.

    I’m also not impressed by the fact that there was a “deal”. If we open that can of worms then damn near everything said in a traditional mass is going to be an actionable broken promise.

    1. “And from the summary the priest is on very firm ground religiously.”

      Thats kinda the issue. As a religious person (though not a Catholic) I dont think he is. There are certain information that is supposed, under church rules, to be confidential.

      1. I’m wondering why they did a funeral at all – for a suicide.

        1. OK, I see, the sin wasn’t notorious –

          Can. 1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:

          1/ notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;

          2/ those who chose the cremation of their bodies for reasons contrary to Christian faith;

          3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.

          §2. If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.

          Can. 1185 Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals.

          1. “Can. 1184 §1. Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:”[emphasis added]

            As I understand Catholic theology — as I was taught it by the nuns — there is no way of knowing that the person committing suicide didn’t repent before death and hence the presumption is that the person did.

            There is medical evidence that this is true — people who have attempted suicide but actually lived stating that they regretted their decision after having made it. And while I doubt that the dogmatic fascists are Christian enough to care, there also is considerable evidence that suicide usually is a desperate cry for help.

        2. Indeed, 50 years ago, it likely would not have happened.

          1. 50 years ago, there would have been a quiet payment and the cause of death would have been changed to something other than suicide.

            It might not even have required the bribe — we both know that OUI deaths were never mentioned as OUI back then, out of sympathy to the family. I somehow doubt that suicides were either — and that there instead were a lot of “accidents”, e.g. “hunting accidents.”

            1. I’m glad that you know so much about the medical examiner’s office.

              1. I’m so glad that Moron Don knows so much about police practices of the mid 20th Century….

                Hint: The medical examiner only knows what he is told. A fall could be a death by misadventure or a suicide, a GSW could be a hunting accident (tripping over weapon) or a suicide — there is no forensic evidence either way — particularly back then…

                1. More of your BS based on zero knowledge.

                  1. It didn’t involve suicides, but I can think of a few situations 40+ years ago when I intentionally neglected to include some facts that I didn’t think the survivors or anyone else needed to know.

                    1. “It didn’t involve suicides,”
                      Well there you go. Insurance companies have a strong financial interest in separating suicides from other suspicious deaths.

    2. Ducksalad,
      I think that you have the correct take on this. The priest’s actions were an offense against charity.
      LaCuesta may have felt that he was being charitable in performing the funeral mass. Years ago, that may have been much harder. Then he felt certain regrets. But his actions although formally permissible were hardly charitable.

  9. More child abuse by a RC Priest.

    1. Wow, what a stretch.

      1. N, it isn’t…

        1. There was NO child abuse alleged in this case.
          No wonder you adore the Orange Clown, Lie, Lie, Lie. It is all you can do.

          1. Actually, if there were children present at that funeral and I witnessed it, as a “mandated reporter”, I would be legally obligated to report that priest for emotional child abuse.

            Abuse means the non-accidental commission of any act by
            a caretaker upon a child under age 18 which causes, or
            creates a substantial risk of … emotional injury…
            Abuse is not dependent upon location (i.e., abuse can occur while the child is in an out-of-home or in-home setting.) (110 CMR 2)

            That is a clip of the regulations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and as someone who actually teaches this stuff, I can assure you that the laws of the other states (including Michigan) say pretty much the same thing because this is all based on Federal regulations.

            I think your reference to a former President says all one needs to know about your credibility. Even though it’s true, I don’t refer to a different former President as “a man so crooked that even his penis is twisted.”

            1. “I would be legally obligated to report that priest for emotional child abuse.”
              Geez, more of you self-righteous bullshit. Report and be laugh at.

  10. Choose reason. Every time.

    Choose reason. Especially over sacred ignorance, dogmatic intolerance, or boorish scolding at funerals.

    Choose reason. Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then, childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for gullibility, ignorance, backward, bigotry, and superstition. By adulthood — and this includes ostensible adulthood — it is no excuse, not even in the most desolate backwater one might find.

    Choose reason. Every time. And education, progress, tolerance, science, freedom, modernity, and inclusiveness. Avoid superstition, ignorance, bigotry, backwardness, insularity, dogma, and pining for ‘good old days’ that never existed. Not 75 years ago. Not 75 years ago. Not 2,000 years ago. Not ever.

    Choose reason. Every time. Be an adult.

    Or, at least, please try.

    Thank you.

  11. There’s illegal, and then there’s just plain wrong. The priest’s actions were the latter.

  12. I dont think, religion aside, this would be illegal regardless. The implied contract rhe family is straining to refer to imo doesn’t really exist, regardless of whether or not a priest is the one conducting the ceremony.

    I do have a question though. Suppose someone reveals information to a Catholic priest, in confession, that is materially damaging to their reputation. Church rules, as well as religious and moral rules, dictate that be kept confidential (unless its illegal, in which case it becomes rather complicated, let’s just suppose it isnt or if it is its not that big a deal legally)

    The priest decides to reveal it anyway in his sermon.

    Does a cause of action exist? Can the person sue the priest? Because he is in violation of the formal rules of the church … I suppose one can say its a church problem, not a legal one, but I dont actually think in that case it is that clear cut. You don’t get to violate confidentiality by virtue of being a priest in certain situations.

    1. The cause of action is via canon law. It should be brought to the attention of the bishop and his superior.

      1. Because canon law supersedes statutory law…

        And people wonder why the Catholic church wasn’t always accepted….

        1. Besides: “when the Hullibargers met with Archbishop Vigneron and plaintiff brought up Father LaCuesta, Archbishop Vigneron “ended the meeting, telling her he wasn’t there to discuss Father LaCuesta.”

          1. And that was the correct response. The court ruled that the matter was subject only to canon law and the judgement of eccesiastical authorities.
            Is that so heard for you to understand? I thought that you were big on the 1st Amendment

            1. I come from a community where the family’s response would likely involve the discharge of firearms and hence perhaps view the concept of “rule of law” — of CIVIL law — as perhaps being a little bit more important than you might.

              While it was a drug overdose and not a suicide, if the minister conducting a certain funeral had done *anything* along the lines of what this purported Priest did, he wouldn’t have made it off the island alive. Of that I have absolutely no doubt…

              Civil law prevents a lot of other quite scary things from happening.

            2. It seems to me that Canon law couldn’t be bothered with the issue…

        2. In this case indeed it does and that was the ruling of the court.
          But you live in a fantasy world Ed.

          1. Don’t underestimate what a grieving father is capable of.

            I would not be at all surprised to learn that this was not the end of this matter. I hope it is — but I doubt it….

  13. Tbf if you really believe in catholic doctrine helping others avoid grave sin is quite a bit more important than being polite.

    1. Yeah but compassion and decency should also have a place. This is kind of like a priest going off about homosexuality being a sin at a funeral of someone who was gay and died of AIDS. Not the time and place IMO. On the other hand, not my circus, not my monkeys.

    2. Amos, this is not something to be defended as righteous.

      1. S_0,
        It might be righteous but still be an offense against charity. It’s a balancing test that is called for. Personally I would have opted for charity, but I am not trained as a priest.

        1. I very much disagree. And it sort of seems like you do as well, noting the virtue being neglected in favor of blind dogma.

          The line between when faith should be used as a salve and a spur is not hard to figure out here for laypeople, much less someone charged with caring for a flock.

          This is not the time of sinners in the hands of an angry god.

  14. “Compassion and dignity should also have a place”. As should confidentiality. If I was a member of that parish I’ll be damned if I’d ever do confession to that priest. He’s a loose cannon that can’t be trusted.

    1. The fact of the suicide was not confidential. In fact it is public record.
      Of all the conflicting issues at hand, confidentiality is not one of them.

      1. “on committed suicide in early December 2018, but his family kept the manner of his death from the public.”

        How did the priest find out?!?

        1. I don’t care.

          1. And the public generally knows a lot more than what families announce. Get real.

  15. I am not surprised the commenters are siding with the plaintiffs. They are Hate America Democrats, tax sucking, rent seeking parasites.

    1. Religion is 10 times more effective than government, the wholly owned subsidiary of the lawyer profession. Religious people are persuaded to be kind, to take care of their families, to not spend their time in the Roman Orgy lifestyle of the degenerate Democrat Party.

  16. I do believe that the cruelest act I’ve ever seen was the performance of a Lutheran pastor at the funeral of a young man who’d died in Viet Nam. Gene was a pledge in my fraternity in his freshman year in college. I knew his parents and his family. He was their only son. He’d been a member of his church youth group. He was an All American kid–not the brightest, not the dumbest, but a hard charger in everything he did. He dropped out of college his junior year to go to OCS. Gene was killed after 51 days in country in the fall of 1968. He was a First Lieutenant leading a charge into NVA machine guns.

    The minister presiding at the funeral had been Gene’s youth group pastor. I’m certain that he had promised the members of the group Eternal Salvation if they lived a good Christian life. Gene had done at. At the funeral the pastor told the parents, grieving over their lost son, that he was going to Hell for having fought in an unjust war. He told the 400 people or so assembled for the funeral that they were hypocrites for grieving over the death of someone who fought in that war. I’d just returned to my hometown from law school. Aside from the cruelty of it all, I thought the pastor was in breach of contract–on that earlier promise.

    I walked out of the church–and did not enter a civilian church for another 40 years. If that sort of cruelty is tolerated, I didn’t want any part of it. It’s been 52 years since that happened, and I still simmer when I think about it.

    1. There are people who greatly improve the world by their deaths. It is proper to mention that at their funerals.

      Your friend was not one of them. Progressives are obsessed. Their humanity is overcome by the ideology. That ideology overcame the humanity of the Commies that killed 100 million people and still filed to persuade anyone of the validity of their ideology.

    2. Thank you for sharing.

    3. My first thought is if he was one of the people who went to seminary for the sole purpose of avoiding the draft — as I understand it, seminary was the only grad school that was exempt in the late ’60s.

      And youth group pastors often were theology students.

      1. Ed,
        You do have a passion for baseless speculation.

          1. Indeed, really.
            What do you KNOW about that case? And how did you KNOW it?

            1. Beyond what I stated, starting with “wonder if he was one of the” — how much more do you purport to claim I know?

              As to the problem the various Protestants had with draft dodgers with seminary degrees, that I have personal knowledge of — having once driven 7 hours home from college because my vote was needed to fire such a twit.

              It’s also was well documented in the media, even the media that you might lower yourself to read. It’s not so much an issue today because someone dodging the draft in 1969 is now 70 years old, but it was a very real one in years past.

              1. So you admit that you know nothing at all about the case, as you merely bring up the irrelevant to show how righteous you are.
                Bah. Humbug

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