Insights: SB 360 Causes Alarm; Bills to Empower School Choice

Bishops, Priests, Faithful Voice Alarm Over SB 360

The Legislature’s attempts to attack the sanctity of the confessional in Senate Bill 360 is drawing alarm from California Bishops, priests, Catholics and others concerned with the free exercise of religion.

SB 360 (Hill, D-Mateo), would remove the right to privacy between a penitent and confessor during the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other spiritual counseling for priests and employees of the Church. In Catholic teaching, the confessional is sacrosanct and Canon law is very clear that any priest who violates the seal of confession is automatically excommunicated.  

“It’s shocking because it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. The whole point of the First Amendment was to keep the government out of the church. Here it is the government intruding into the affairs of the church,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Listen to his entire interview here.

“SB 360 claims to solve a crisis that does not exist,” wrote Archbishop José H. Gomez in a piece on “The fact is, child sexual abuse is not a sin that people confess to priests in the confessional. Those who counsel such predators tell us that sadly, many of them are secretive and manipulative and cannot comprehend the grave evil of their actions.”

Other Bishops have emphasized the great peril this new law presents for priests. Historically, many have died to protect the “seal of confession.”

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Catholic Advocacy Day Reports Reveal Legislator Votes

Late last month, meetings with the offices of more than 40 lawmakers took place during the annual Catholic Advocacy Day, where Catholics from throughout the state gathered in the Capitol to lobby positions on bills dealing with life, children, and families.

Aside from the important goal of holding lawmakers accountable, Catholic Advocacy Day also helps build ongoing relationships with legislators.  Over time, these relationships can make a significant difference in legislative outcomes – especially if members of a parish or community consistently work with the representatives.  Today’s U.S. Senator was yesterday’s State Assembly Member.

The 2019 Catholic Advocacy Day reports are now available and provide some insight into votes being cast at the Capitol on the several key bills. Click here for a list of the bills discussed.

According to one participant, Alex Bennet, a policy analyst for Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg, is interested in resolving SB 360’s (Hill – D, San Mateo) impingement on the First Amendment. (See previous article.) Discussion, insight and information like this is valuable to understanding the perspective of each legislator and how they fit into Capitol dynamics.

You can click here to gain a sense of which way many members may vote on each Advocacy Day bill.  And view some summary charts here.

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Federal Legislation Would Empower School Choice

The California Catholic Conference advocates for the quality education of all public and private school children, especially for those who are poor and most vulnerable.  Furthermore, the CCC affirms every parents’ right to direct, and to be fully engaged in, their children’s education. This starts with the ability to choose freely the appropriate educational community for their child – one that supports their values, meets their child’s learning needs and cultivates their child’s talents and interests.  Such choice supports each child’s good, every family’s good, and our common good.

In support of these principles, there are two Congressional measures on Capitol Hill that, endorsed by the CCC, would empower parents to educate their children through the creative use of tax policy.

When it returns from the June 3rd Recess, Congress will be taking up S.634/H.R. 1434, the “Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act.” These identical bills would create a federal education tax credit to support scholarship programs benefiting K-12 public and private school students. Language has been included to ensure religious school participation while protecting religious liberties.

In a letter to Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Alabama), the Diocese of Oakland’s Bishop Michael Barber, who also serves as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, wrote, “The Catholic Church teaches that parents are the first teachers of their children. Whether homeschool or private, parents know the needs of their child. The Committee on Catholic Education is happy to support the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act.” Read the entire letter here.

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AMA to Vote on Support for Assisted Suicide

At its annual meeting this June 8-12 in Chicago, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates will once again be voting on assisted suicide, specifically to affirm the slightly revised Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) report that retains the AMA’s longstanding opposition to assisted suicide. 

The CEJA report, online forum, and Reference Committee all recommended that the AMA maintain its position in opposition to assisted suicide at the last meeting.  In spite of those recommendations, the House of Delegates for further study. 

Whether or not you are a member of AMA, there are actions you can take to support the CEJA Report such as encouraging those who are members and delegates to speak and vote in favor of the CEJA report.

Learn more about physician-assisted suicide in other states at the USCCB’s Pro-Life Activities page.


USCCB Chairmen Welcome Health Care Nondiscrimination Regulations

The USCCB has issued a statement welcoming the announcement of proposed modifications to regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

“We applaud the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for proposing regulations restoring the long-standing position of the federal government that discrimination on the basis of ‘sex’ does not refer to ‘termination of pregnancy’ nor ‘gender identity.’ These modifications follow the legislative intent of the Affordable Care Act to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in health care. The proposed regulations would help restore the rights of health care providers – as well as insurers and employers – who decline to perform or cover abortions or ‘gender transition’ procedures due to ethical or professional objections. Catholic health care providers serve everyone who comes to them, regardless of characteristics or background. However, there are ethical considerations when it comes to procedures. We are grateful for today’s important step.”

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May 31, 2019
Vol. 12, No. 17

En Español


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