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.
[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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ .]
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