JESUITICA: Jesuit left speechless
Many Jesuits are remembered for speaking out. One, however, should be remembered for keeping his mouth shut. In the early 1800s Anthony Kohlmann, a German Jesuit long resident in the United States, became embroiled in a law case that gained huge attention. He had organised the restitution of stolen goods to a man who then tried to get the courts to force him to divulge the thief’s name. He refused, however, to breach the seal of confession. His right to do so was later upheld, and the principle of ‘confessional privilege’ was enshrined in law. It is seen to derive from the first amendment to the constitution, which affirms freedom of religion.