May 28, 2019
By Christopher Vondracek
Catholic priests in California would be legally obligated to report to police sexual abuse confessions brought to them by fellow priests and other church employees if a bill quickly moving through the state legislature becomes law.
Religious liberty advocates, including representatives of Catholic dioceses in California, challenge the legislation, saying it would invade a sacred space and direct priests to violate the “seal of confession.”
“Sometimes the best intentions can lead to bad legislation,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a statement on California’s Senate Bill 360, which was approved by wide margins last week and now heads to the state Assembly.
Under Roman Catholic teachings, the sins confessed by a parishioner to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation are secret to all but God, who absolves the sins through the instrument of the priest.
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