Archbishop Gomez stirs Los Angeles Catholics to protect confessional seal

Letter to be read in all archdiocese parishes on June 15­–16


Archbishop Gomez: “Jesus gave us this gift so that we could always come to him, personally.”

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

On this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, I am writing to you about an important matter.

The California legislature is considering a bill that would take away the full right to confession from priests and from everyone who works with priests in parishes and Church agencies across the state.

Our lawmakers have good intentions. They want to prevent child abuse. But there is no evidence that this legislation will do that. Instead, it threatens a practice that is essential to our faith and religious identity.

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, what we call confession, was the first gift that Jesus gave to the world after rising from the dead. On the first Easter night, he breathed his Holy Spirit into his apostles, his first priests, and he granted them the awesome power to forgive sins in his name.

Jesus gave us this gift so that we could always come to him, personally, to confess our sins and seek his forgiveness and the grace to continue on our Christian journey.

In practice, this sacrament takes place in a humble and honest conversation that we have with a priest, who is ordained to serve as the sign and the instrument of Christ’s merciful love for us as sinners.

We confess our sins, not to a man, but to God. The priest stands in the place of Jesus, and the words he hears in the confessional are not spoken to him; they are words addressed to God. That is why the priest has the sacred duty to keep the seal of the confessional and never to disclose what he hears in sacramental confession for any reason.

This ancient practice ensures that our confessions are always intimate communications with Jesus alone.

And as we all know, it is a great feeling to be able to speak to Jesus with total freedom and complete honesty in the confessional. We tell of our love for him; we express sorrow for our sins, and our sincere intent not to commit these sins again. We accept the penance that is given to us; we receive spiritual guidance and encouragement. And through the ministry of the priest, Jesus speaks to us personally, with words that set us free: “I absolve you of your sins.”

Everything about this beautiful relationship depends on the divine assurance that what we say to Jesus in this sacrament will remain private and confidential.

This is why I am urging you today to write to your lawmakers.

We cannot allow the government to enter into our confessionals to dictate the terms of our personal relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, that is what this legislation would do.

We need your help to protect this sacrament of the Church and to keep confession sacred. And we need to continue our commitment to building a society where every child is loved, protected,  and safe.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my reflections with you, my brothers and sisters. Please know that you are in my prayers every day. And I ask you to please pray for me and my ministry.

I entrust you and your families to the loving care of Mary, our Blessed Mother.

The above letter was released on June 12 via Angelus News.


  1. Just a couple months ago Gomez said, “It’s a great day for California!” Now he changes his tune. Until he cleans up his Religious Ed Congress in Anaheim, he has no credibility with me. See, people like me have written to him about what’s bad at the Religious Ed Congress and asked him to make it better, but he has ignored our letters. Now he sees what it feels like to be ignored because the governor of California is going to ignore him and every Catholic who writes about this topic.

    • Could not say it better, and so many are frustrated with these confused “refuse to connect the dots” prelates.
      So, they sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. It’s hard to feel sorry for him (though it is us that suffers as well). Maybe someday these _++ will grab a clue, (and forgive me here, but it is TRUE).

    • Good to see him doing some good:
      You are bang on correct Betty. Bishop Gomez
      has “no credibility “ with me either.
      He is not even smart enough
      ( or brave enough ) to know :
      “ It is not loving God to be faithful in fulfilling
      part of our duties and neglecting the rest.”
      ( Cure de Ars. ) Patron Saints of parish priests. So sad.
      Oh when are Catholics going to be truly
      loving to our bishops and tell them how
      disappointed and dismayed we are with them.
      they are to us.
      And yes ! One thing he IS good
      at is ignoring calls and emails from concerned
      Catholics. That is my experience and that of
      many others I know.
      Does he have no fear of judgement

  2. If face-to-face confession is avoided in all cases and the Sacrament is kept “behind the screen,” the priest can truthfully decline to later identify the penitent or connect him or her with the confession of any particular sins.

  3. Estella G says

    Thank you, Betty.
    Now that the Left has used the bishops and priests to prop up the anti-life agenda for years, they will throw the priests and the Faith under the bus.
    The Left is neo-Bolshevik, socialist, authoritarian and they despise the Catholic Faith.
    Is it too late for Abp Gomez to stop catering to the Left. Have you heard Abp Gomez praise Donald Trump for presidential pro-life efforts? No.

  4. This is what happens when you lose moral authority , the enemy becomes emboldened they can see the weakness and act as they would never have before. I think a petition should be given to the appropriate legislators , so it can be rejected in the manner he did when the group Clean the Church tried to present him with their petition . Perhaps mahoney can speak publicly , as he has been doing in such venues as the LA Religious Education Conference, as well as other public events to appeal to his supporters in the statehouse, let’s see if his support in the immigration debate wins him support on this matter.

    • And the point is?…I think most people is changing the point. Are these people taking a vengeful stand, or, if they’re Catholics, are they going to unite with our pastor calling? …

  5. Stephanie says

    He may have spoken eloquently in this letter, but he’s weak. No one is listening to him. The Legislature just walks all over him. This should be screamed about during every homily until Newsom either signs or vetoes the bill. Where is the outrage? We need Bishops and Cardinals that fight back.

  6. Stephanie , Amen !

  7. Amen!
    The bishops are flying home from their meeting where they voted not to hold themselves accountable.

  8. This was read at mass today , this is not the man who should be leading us in this fight , I think the laity needs to take this on , our leaders have lost credibility and confidence of those within and outside the church. I doubt they can honestly see that they themselves (i.e. mahoney, mccarrick, etc.) are responsible for this attack on the church, I cannot think of someone in leadership that has the moral courage or gravitas to make this case to those who support this part of the bill.

  9. Doubting Thomas says

    This legislation would probably not have been proposed in the first place had the individials who lead the Church acted responsibly in the first place.

    While vehemently opposing any violation of the seal of the confessional, I can’t help but wonder how much the equivocation, deception, and ineffective action by the Church’s leadership contributed to the current situation.

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