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Jackie Kennedy's letters to priest should have been burnt

 |  NCR Today

We are learning many fascinating things about the life and thoughts of Jackie Kennedy from her letters to Vincentian Fr. Joseph Leonard, which were made public this week.

As a journalist and student of history, I find these letters fascinating. But as a priest, I am appalled. The letters should have been burnt. 

Although nothing in these letters is protected by the seal of confession, there is a presumption of confidentiality when a person writes to a priest about her spiritual life. Simply because the person is famous is no reason to break that confidentiality. 

All Hallows College should have never sold these letters. At a minimum, they should have been buried in the archives for 100 years. By making them public, it puts everyone on notice that what you write a priest could become public.

Thanks. That is just what we needed. 

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[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

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July 17-30, 2015

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