reports on a controversy involving the duty of Canadian military chaplains to report crimes under some circumstances. Excerpt:
The Canadian military's marching orders for chaplains who counsel perpetrators or victims of sexual misconduct is [sic] causing a crisis of conscience for some clergy, federal documents reveal.
A series of morale and welfare reports obtained by CBC News under Access to Information legislation show the issue of pastors being compelled to testify in court has become a matter of increasing unease among military clergy.
"There is concern by chaplains that they are potentially breaching the confidentiality of those receiving spiritual care," said a March 2015 summary prepared by the military chaplain general's office. Moreover, the report said, "the existing framework for legal assistance to chaplains does not provide legal advice for them."
Pastors on bases along the West Coast seemed the most concerned about the ethical dilemma, and at one point they consulted with the regional prosecutor's office to review legal issues related to chaplain confidentiality in courts martial.
Directive from the top
But as far as the military's top spiritual adviser is concerned, the issue is clear-cut.
Brig.-Gen. Guy Chapdelaine has issued a directive that says, with the exception of confessions heard under the sanctity of Roman Catholic reconciliation, pastors are required to disclose what they have been told if a crime has been committed.
"In certain circumstances, there is a duty to report what has been revealed in a counselling situation," said the Oct. 23, 2015, directive, recently obtained by CBC News through Access to Information.
The directive states: "With the exception of an exchange of sacrament reconciliation with a Roman Catholic priest, confidentiality in pastoral care and counselling is not applicable" when the person is a danger to themselves or others, when the incident involves child abuse or when a court orders a pastor to testify.
Further, "all notes and documentation, including all emails concerning the case," may be turned over to the court for "consideration" during the trial.
The chaplains could be called upon to testify, but "will share all information with investigators only with the written consent of the victim."
They should also "encourage, and where appropriate enable" the victim to report incidents.