From Iceland — Priest Removed For Violating Confidentiality

Priest Removed For Violating Confidentiality

Published April 21, 2020

Sam O'Donnell
Photo by
Screenshot/RÚV

Skírnir Garðarsson, the priest who blew the whistle on Anna Aurora Waage Óskarsdóttir for impersonating a health care professional, has been removed from service, RÚV reports. He had held this office from 2016. A report from the Bishop’s office states that, along with the rules of conduct, he violated clergy confidentiality when he spoke to the press.

In an interview with Vísir, he accused Anna Aurora of falsely representing an organisation to obtain financial assistance from the church’s relief fund back in 2013. At that time, she sued him and a Mosfellsbær employee for breach of privacy laws.

Seven years later, he saw the same woman on the news, climbing into a Coast Guard helicopter. He says he considered notifying the police, but for reasons that are unclear at this time, did not do so. He did, however, contact Gylfa Ólafsson, CEO of the Westfjörds Health Institute.

Skírnir later said that while the duty of confidentiality is important, he felt like it was not universal. The Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir (seen above), disagreed. “Confidentiality is the cornerstone of priests’ relationship with parishioners and other clients,” she said in the report. “If a priest violates this duty of confidentiality towards any of his clients, this is a serious matter concerning the priest’s code of conduct and ethics.”

The report also stated that priests must report all criminal cases concerning children and youth to police. This is the only exception to the duty of confidentiality.

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

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