The Assault on Religious Freedom Continues: Proposed Bill Would Force Priests to Break Seal of Confession
The assault on religious freedom continues in plain sight. A bill in the works in California would create a state law the forces Catholic priests to violate the seal of the confessional, which is the church's version of "physician-patient privilege."
From Catholic News Agency:
Senate Bill 360 was amended to require the sacramental seal be violated in instances where a presit learns of or suspects abuse while hearing the confession of a fellow priest or colleague. The bill was originally drafted to require priests to violate the seal if they came to suspect abuse following the confession of any penitent whatsoever.
The bill passed the California Senate on Thursday by an overwhelming margin, with legislators voting 30-2 in favor of the measure.
Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland wrote “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."
Church law and civil law have an uneasy relationship at best. The Catholic Church is opposed to abortion and capital punishment, both of which are legal in the United States, obviously.
Many devout Catholics are steeling themselves for battles over gay marriage they are convinced are inevitable.
The bill's sponsor claims that "clergy-penitent privilege has been abused on a large scale," despite the fact that, according to the article, "no data exists establishing or indicating the use of sacramental confession either to facilitate or perpetuate the sexual abuse of minors."
In an increasingly (to the chagrin of many of us) secular society, legislators will no doubt be emboldened to pressure churches to conform. Democratic leaders in the U.S. like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Andrew Cuomo openly champion abortion while still claiming to be Roman Catholic.
Should this bill become law, priests in California will be in a very difficult position, as violation of the confessional seal for any reason is grounds for excommunication.