May 7, 2004
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
(UMNS) — Clergy will be allowed to “listen to their own conscience” in
deciding whether or not to report a case of suspected child abuse or
neglect, according to action taken May 7 at the 2004 General Conference.
in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law, clergy
will be allowed to maintain all confessional confidences.
Those speaking against the motion stressed the greater duty of the clergy to children rather than to confidentiality.
opposed to making it mandatory to report such cases said it would be
damaging to the pastoral role if people knew the pastor was being forced
to disclose confidential information.
pastor must make the tough call on whether or not to report suspected
cases of abuse or neglect,” said the Rev. Rebekah L. Miles, a delegate
from Arkansas, speaking for the Higher Education and Ministry
“This gives the pastor the right to listen to his or her own conscience and the higher authority of God.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
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