"I don’t think you can force the priest to testify, or to talk about the confession" Dunnigan said.
Even if his testimony does not create a detriment, Father Bayhi would be in the awkward position of being asked about confessions that he cannot even verify occurred. In its statement, the Diocese of Baton Rouge hinted that Father Bayhi is prepared to face jail time because he will not testify about confessions that the penitent claims took place.
Father Bayhi declined to be interviewed by Aleteia.
"If necessary, the priest would have to suffer a finding of contempt in a civil court and suffer imprisonment rather than violate his sacred duty and violate the seal of confession and his duty to the penitent," the diocese said.
Brian Fraga is a daily newspaper reporter who writes from Fall River, Massachusetts