Catholic officials are urging Catholics to continue to oppose a California bill that would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they hear in the sacrament of confession, which is advancing in the state legislature.
Current California law requires clergy to report suspected abuse or neglect unless the information about the abuse was obtained during confession.
Senate Bill 360, authored by Bay Area Democrat Sen. Jerry Hill, seeks to eliminate this so-called “exemption” for “penitential communication.”
On May 16, the Senate Appropriations committee voted 4-2 to send an amended version of Senate Bill 360 for a vote of the full Senate.
As amended, the bill now protects the seal of the confessional — except in cases where a priest is hearing another priest’s confession or in cases where a priest is hearing the confession of a co-worker.
In a statement, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the bill remains “an unacceptable violation of our religious freedoms that will do nothing to protect children.”
As amended, he said, “SB 360 still denies the sanctity of confession to every priest in the state and to thousands of Catholics who work with priests in parishes and other Church agencies and ministries.”
In the run-up to the Appropriations Committee hearing, Archbishop Gomez had urged a no vote on SB 360. More than 1,300 people contacted their Senators through the website of the California Catholic Conference — urging lawmakers to keep the seal of confession sacred.
The California Catholic Conference is urging Catholics to oppose SB 360 which would revoke the “Seal of Confession.” Tell your State Senator to vote “NO”on SB 360; click here.
Full story at Angelus News.