Church, state lawmaker, at odds over Catholic confessional bill

Jan 14, 2020, 4:57 PM
Catholic confessional bill...
FILE: Image of the Catholic confessional (Photo credit: Getty Images).
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A Catholic organization and Utah state lawmaker are at odds over House Bill 90, which could influence the secrecy of the Catholic confessional. H.B. 90 has been crafted and will be introduced by Rep. Angela Romero.

If the bill is approved, it would change Utah’s mandatory reporting laws to require a member of the clergy to report child abuse and neglect. If that individual fails to do so, they could face a misdemeanor charge.

On Tuesday morning, The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights reached out via email to House Speaker Brad Wilson, asking for Wilson’s help.

“We need his [Wilson’s] help in opposing a bill by his Democrat colleague, Rep. Angela Romero, who would gut the confidentiality of the Confessional seal.”

The Catholic Education Resource Center describes the Confessional Seal as the protector of a “sacred trust” built between a priest and a confessor.

Later in the email, Catholic League President Bill Donohue attributed a quote to Wilson.

“I have serious concerns about this bill and the effects it could have on religious leaders as well as their ability to counsel members of their congregation,” read the quote.

“I do not support this bill in its current form and—unless significant changes are made to ensure the protection of religious liberties—I will be voting against this bill.”

KSL Newsradio reached out to Wilson’s office to verify the attribution and to seek additional comment, but we have not heard back as of Tuesday afternoon.

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City recently said they were still reviewing the bill and had not taken an official position yet. Additionally, both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake have remained relatively neutral, also claiming they need more time to review the text.


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Church, state lawmaker, at odds over Catholic confessional bill