Catholics to Protest Proposed Bill

By Tracy Simmons
Waterbury Republican-American
March 10, 2009

[Read the text of SB 1098]

The Roman Catholic community is up in arms over a senate bill proposed late last week that the Archdiocese of Hartford is calling an attack on the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell is encouraging parishioners to attend a hearing on Wednesday to discuss SB1098, which would modify corporate laws relating to religious corporations.

The bill, introduced by The Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature, would give the general and financial powers of parishes to the control of a board of directors. The board would be elected by members of the congregation and clergy would serve as a nonvoting ex-officio member.

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, is calling for people of all faiths to attend the meeting and said he expects the "biggest turnout ever for a weekday hearing."

"It's the most blatant attack on religious liberty I've ever seen," he said.

The Family Institute has set up a Facebook page opposing the bill and has said they have helped with more than 10,000 e-mails to the Judiciary Committee since Saturday.

Franklin Johns Sr., of Watertown, said that although the proposed bill is offensive, if passed, it would bring parishes closer together because the clergy and congregation would unite together and fight to overturn it.

"I think they'd fight it tooth-and-nail, all the way to the Supreme Court," he said, adding that the proposal is nonsensical since churches already have committees designated to overseeing church operations and finances.

In a letter inserted in church bulletins over the weekend, Mansell wrote that the bill violates the First Amendment.

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