Legislators Bristle at Church Criticism

By Brian Lockhart
The News-Times
March 9, 2008

HARTFORD - The co-chairmen of the legislature's Judiciary Committee issued a strongly worded rebuke today to criticism from Catholic bishops that a proposed law to regulate how parishes are controlled and operated is an attack on the church and freedom of religion.

"That is not the truth and the facts do not support such a claim," Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said in a joint statement. "In reality this bill was proposed and written by a group of faithful Catholic parishioners from Fairfield County who asked the Judiciary Committee to consider giving the subject a public hearing." The law, up for a public hearing Wednesday, would strip the dioceses of all financial control of parishes and leave bishops and priest to over see "matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices" while a board of elected laypersons oversees parish finances.

McDonald and Lawlor said the proposal originated with members of St. John Church on the Post Road in Darien, where the former pastor, the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, was convicted of stealing from the church over several years.

McDonald also represents Darien.

--We decided to give these parishioners a chance to present to the J judiciary committee a case for their proposed revisions to existing corporate law," McDonald and Lawlor said. "A lot of misinformation has been spread about his proposal and we ourselves are still learning exactly what its impact would be." The church went ton the offensive this weekend with the bishops attempting to rally opposition to the legislation from the pulpit during masses.

"We are keeping an open mind to what these parishioners have to say about heir church and we respectfully ask that other given them the courtesy of listening to their repurposed changes," McDonald and Lawlor wrote. "We ourselves are questioning certain aspects of their proposal and even the constitutionality of the current law. Despite what has been portrayed, we have not endorsed nor are we advocating for this proposal."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.