The following is an excerpt from a May 27 letter from Bishop Michael Barber of the Diocese of Oakland:
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am all in favor of laws that protect all our children from any form of abuse. The Catholic Church has been working hard to be a leader in Safe Environment training, vetting of clergy, employees and volunteers and reporting allegations to police authorities.
However, a new law being proposed in the California State Senate is misguided and does nothing to support our efforts. It aims to strip confidentiality from the Sacrament of Confession. If passed, it would require priests to report certain sins they heard in confession to the police.
This is a violation of one of our most sacred sacraments. According to Canon Law, any priest who breaks the Seal of Confession, divulging sins he has heard, to anyone at any time, commits a mortal sin and is in danger of excommunication.
A priest reported to me on May 21 that because of publicity surrounding this bill, teenagers on his Confirmation retreat hesitated to go to Confession recently, as they thought the priests were now required to divulge their sins to law enforcement.
Even if this bill passes, no priest may obey it. The protection of your right to confess to God and have your sins forgiven in total privacy must be protected. I urge you to contact your State Senator today to protest this bill.
I will go to jail before I will obey this attack on our religious freedom.
Yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ
Full story at Catholic Voice Oakland.