Most Rev. Paul S.
Dear Bishop Loverde:
Enclosed are courtesy copies of documents I sent to Rome appealing your decision to refuse an exemption to those who object to the mandatory fingerprinting policy.
I am particularly disturbed by the incorrect information given to the laity that fingerprints will not be archived in a government file. Fr. Specht assured those attending the April 19 meeting in Front Royal that none of the fingerprint records are kept. Perhaps the chancery was not aware of Virginia statute 52-46 requiring the state to keep a database of all fingerprints submitted by organizations asking for background checks. I suspect this is the case. No doubt it resulted from the chancery’s misunderstanding of how the system works. Or perhaps we misunderstood Fr. Specht and he meant the diocese would keep no permanent records.
A lawyer friend of Les Femmes reviewed the statute to make sure our interpretation of its legal meaning is correct. He commented that, “By submitting fingerprints, it appears that one is agreeing that they be maintained (potentially) forever so long as one is in voluntary service. And by doing so, one authorizes, implicitly, at least, the state to notify the diocese of any arrest, etc. What a privacy waiver!”
Individuals, of course, have a right to waive any right to privacy they may have in order to chaperone their children’s field trips. They also have a right to know exactly what they are doing when they agree to the diocesan requirement.
In view of the incorrect information given to the laity with regard to the mandatory fingerprinting policy, I respectfully suggest that you have an obligation to inform all those participating in the mandatory background check that their fingerprints will, in fact, be kept in a state database. In the interests of full disclosure you should inform them that the state will cross-check their fingerprints with those of individuals arrested for certain crimes. People who agree to the diocese’s mandatory fingerprinting policy have a right to know they are waiving their right to privacy despite misleading assurances by the diocese.
Please let me know how you will notify the lay faithful of this crucial information.
Sincerely in Christ,