March 1, 2003
I, A.W. Richard Sipe, do declare as follows:
1. I am a Roman Catholic in good standing. My background, training, experience, research and expertise is in the area of mental health problems of Roman Catholic priests and members of religious orders. I have previously been a retired psychiatrist assistant; instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at John’s Hopkins School of Medicine; and Adjunct, Associate, Assistant and Professor in various Catholic colleges and seminaries. My curriculum vitae is attached.
I was educated in Catholic schools and seminaries, including Collegio Saint’ Anselmo, a Pontifical seminary in
3. I served on the faculties of
three major Catholic seminaries:
4. My areas of expertise include the sexual abuse
of minors, sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, and celibacy in the Roman
Catholic priesthood. I conducted a
research project from 1960 to 1985 on the sexual/celibate adjustment of priests.
A summary of the results of my research was presented to the Archbishop of
Cincinnati, Daniel Pilarczyk, in 1986.
I also presented my research data to the staff of the National Conference of
Catholic Bishops in
5. I have published four books on celibacy.
These books have been used in Catholic seminary courses and quoted in handbooks
such as the Formation for Priestly
Celibacy published by the National Catholic Educational Association (1998).
6. I have counselled over 500 patients, including both victims of clergy sexual abuse as well as priest who commit sexual abuse.
have served as a consultant or expert witness in over 100 cases of sexual abuse
of minors by Roman Catholic priests in the
8. From 1965 to 1970, I was on the staff of Seton Psychiatric Institute,
at Saint Luke are only accepted with the referral and sponsorship of the Bishop.
Saint Luke’s responsibility is both toward the individual and the
evaluated are required to sign a release of information form which allows the
evaluation report to be sent to the Bishop or his delegate.
Regular reports of patient progress are sent to the Bishop.
10. In my
experience, these reports are aids to the bishop for his administrative,
supervisory, rehabilitative, and employment purposes.
Furthermore, these reports are routinely shared with diocesan staff
members who are given the responsibility to see that the priest conforms to the
recommended routine, restrictions, and aftercare that are conditions of his
hospital discharge. Based on my
background, experience, training and research, it is my opinion that the
psychotherapist-patient privilege does not apply and no privilege based on the
unique relationship between priest and bishop exists.
confessional privilege generally referred to, as the “Priest-Penitent
Privilege” is unique and limited to the sacramental exchange as strictly
defined. There are confidential
communications that occur during the training of priests, but confidentiality is
not equivalent to a privilege.
12. Custom and practice in seminary training makes a clear distinction between administrative confidentiality and confessional privilege. Each seminarian is required to have a designated confessor. Most often that confessor is a member of the faculty. The seminary faculty annually evaluates and votes on a candidate’s suitability for advancement. In this process, the faculty member who is designated as the priest-confessor is forbidden to vote on the candidate or to make a comment on his penitent. A summary of the confidential faculty evaluation is recorded and sent to the student’s bishop or religious superior. Records such as academic grades and faculty reports that include complaints, rumors and suspicions are confidential, but do not share the privilege of sacramental confession. Reports to Bishops, or by them, about the celibate violations of other priests are also not protected by the confessional privilege.
confessions may never be memorialized or recorded in writing.
Any memorialization via written record violates the seal of confession
and canon law.
14. A Bishop is free to have a personal and spiritual relationship with a priest. Rarely does this involve a “Priest Penitent” relationship. If any communications are made during a sacramental confession, the Bishop would not document what was said in writing.
15. In my years as a priest, psychotherapist, and seminary teacher, many religious superiors and bishops have talked with me about the problems of their priests. Although these communications were appropriately confidential, none of them merited the privilege of sacramental confession. I am not aware of any instances where a Bishop’s disclosure interfered with the spiritual relationship between that Bishop and his priest.
16. In my
opinion, the claim of a “Formation Privilege” is a fiction that has no basis in Canon Law or in the long –standing practice of seminary
training where there is clear distinction between confessional and
administrative confidentiality. Further,
in my opinion, it is an illegitimate
extension of the “priest-penitent privilege” which is not being claimed to
further a spiritual end, but to deceive and to protect offenders.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws
of the State of
Executed this 1st day of March 2003 at