MAFIA bosses are growing wary of admitting it all in the confessional these days. And with good reason: according to one report, law enforcement agencies might be bugging Catholic confessionals in their campaign against organised crime in New York.
The Catholic League for Religions and Civil Rights wrote this month to FBI Director, William Webster, asking for a confirmation of the report that appeared in the September issue of Time magazine. According to the Time story, FBI agents are placing snooping devices in everything from perrier bottles to the confessionals visited by members of the infamous Cosa Nostra.
The Director of the New York chapter of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, John Puthenveetil, said that if the report was true, it represented an "outrageous violation of our rights — the sacred and confidential confessor-penitent relationship."
Bishop John McGann of Rockville Centre, New York, and Fr Christopher Maloney, secretary to Cardinal John O'Connor of New York also expressed their concern to the League about the allegations of confession "bugs". Fr Maloney told the League that Cardinal O'Connor would put the matter before the National Bishops' Conference.
Catholic US District Judge, Joseph McLaughlin of Brooklyn, condemned the practice of confession taping in a letter to the League last month: "I too am shocked", wrote the judge, saying that "I have never heard of a courtapproved wiretap on church facilities."