Instructions to Obligation of Confidentiality

The confidence of our Brothers and Sisters-in-faith in their ministers is the basic condition for the pastoral care. The bearer of a ministry must make every effort to consolidate this confidence and never misuse it. To that end, confidentiality has first priority. From a legal aspect, the obligation of confidentiality proceeds from the right to live one's own life.

In the first place, the ministers, but also all persons in charge of Church matters and pastoral tasks are subject to obligation of confidentiality. It is not limited by time and continues to be effective also after termination of an occupation.

Church matters:

Pastoral matters:

The obligation of confidentiality must be exercised vis--vis everybody.

Information subject to obligation of confidentiality may be passed on if an express consent of the concerned is available. Information may be passed on to a higher office bearer without prior consent of the concerned if there exists an imperative requirement for it.

This applies in particular if

In particularly serious cases (e.g. in case of committed crimes) such information shall only be passed on to the Apostle.

Ministers have the right to refusal to give evidence vis--vis outsiders (e.g. authorities such as youth welfare office, police, courts). In such cases, the minister shall counsel his District Apostle beforehand.

Obligation of confidentiality means not to discuss confidential - i.e. not public and well-known - matters with third parties and to keep away confidential information from third parties. Within a marriage and family as well as in the circle of the ministers it must be observed that discussions about confidential matters relating to Brothers and Sisters-in-faith are not taking place.

Even experiences of our Brothers and Sisters-in-faith are subject to obligation of confidentiality. It shall not be reported on them publicly, or instances in a divine service, if conclusions regarding the person concerned are possible; the mentioning of names can obviously not be allowed in such cases either.

If Brothers and Sisters-in-faith forbid to pass on any information to superior office bearers, this shall be accepted. We shall continue to take care of such Brothers and Sisters-in-faith without reservation. If ministers feel burdened by such information, they may describe the situation to a higher minister by safeguarding absolute anonymity and ask him for advice.

Should additional questions arise in the practice, information may be obtained from the Apostle.