California Bill Would Make Clergy Report Abuse Revealed in Confessions

February 22, 2019

A California lawmaker says clergy should be required to report suspected child abuse and neglect even if they learn of it during confession.

Democratic Sen. Jerry Hill said the bill he introduced Wednesday is “about the safety and protection of children.”

Clergy members are among a list of more than 40 “mandated reporters,” meaning they are required to report suspected abuse. But they are exempted from reporting anything that happens during confession, a sacrosanct practice in the Catholic Church.

Hill linked the bill to ongoing revelations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

The California Catholic Conference says it supports clergy’s role as mandated reporters but opposes expanding that to cover confession.

Conference spokesman Steve Pehanich says the bill is less about protecting children and more about eroding Catholics’ rights.

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