Information disclosed to a minister during the course of counseling, advising, or spiritual direction shall be held in the strictest confidence possible, and shall not be disclosed without the informed consent of the person, except as required by law.
Whenever possible and as soon as possible, the minister should disclose those circumstances under which confidentiality may be breached:
- When there is the clear and present threat of harm to self or others.
- When there is the suspicion of abuse or neglect perpetrated on a minor child, disabled person, elderly person, or other vulnerable person as defined by local law. It is not the responsibility of the reporter to ascertain the veracity of the report or to investigate the context of the report, but only to report suspicion to the appropriate authorities.
- In legal cases when under court order to provide evidence.
Ministers should keep secure minimal records of the content of sessions, including a record of the disclosures given and the informed consent received.
Knowledge that arises from professional contact may be used in teaching, writing, homilies, or other public presentations only when measures are taken to absolutely safeguard both the individual’s identity and the confidentiality of the disclosures.
While counseling a minor, if a minister discovers that there is a serious threat to the welfare of the minor and that communication of confidential information to a parent or legal guardian is essential to the child’s health and well-being, the minister should disclose information necessary to protect the health and well-being of the minor.