SB 360, a piece of proposed legislation currently making its way through the California state senate, should alarm not only every Catholic in the country, but indeed the adepts of any religion.
In California, as in almost every other state, clergy members (along with a variety of other professionals, including physicians, social workers, teachers, and therapists) are mandated reporters—which is to say, they are legally required to report any case of suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement. However, California clergy who come by this knowledge in the context of “penitential communication” are currently exempted from the requirement.
SB 360 would remove the exemption. Senator Jerry Hill, the bill’s sponsor, characterized the scope and purpose of his legislation as follows: “The law should apply equally to all professionals who have been designated as mandated reporters of these crimes—with no exceptions, period. The exemption for clergy only protects the abuser and places children at further risk.”
This is not about protecting kids – this is about eliminating Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. As the piece goes on to note, if this becomes law, people will go to confession with the specific goal of confessing something a priest has to report, and then having the priest arrested when no report is made. The law will put priests in the impossible position: failure to comply means arrest, compliance means excommunication. And who will want to go to confession if they believe that the priest is an agent of the State? This is the war on religion, writ large.
To be sure, the Supreme Court would likely rule the law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds…but this action by the left in California shows where they will take us if they get the power to do so.