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.

2. I was educated in Catholic schools and seminaries, including Collegio Saint’ Anselmo, a Pontifical seminary in Rome , Italy.

3. I served on the faculties of three major Catholic seminaries: Woodstock College in Maryland (Jesuit) from 1968 to 1970; St. John’s University , Collegeville , Minnesota (Benedictine) from 1967 to 1970; and St. Mary’s Seminary and  University in Maryland (Pontifical, Diocesan) from 1972 to 1984.

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 Washington , D.C. in 1990.  I am currently conducting research full time in the subject of the celibate/sexual adjustment of Catholic priests in the United States.

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.

7. I have served as a consultant or expert witness in over 100 cases of sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests in the United States and Canada .

8. From 1965 to 1970, I was on the staff of Seton Psychiatric Institute, Baltimore , Maryland , a Catholic psychiatric hospital that specialized in the treatment of priests and members of religious orders.  From 1986 to 1988 I served on the Board of Directors of Saint Luke Institute, a 72-bed psychiatric facility established specifically for priests and religious, and specialized in the treatment of sexual disorders, including pedophilia.

9. Residents 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 Bishop.  Priests 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.

11. The 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.

13. Sacramental 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 California that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed this 1st day of March 2003 at La Jolla , California.

A.W. Richard Sipe


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