In the California legislature we currently have S.B. 360, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, which would require priests to report to secular authorities what they might learn about certain crimes in the course of hearing confessions. This is reported in the National Catholic Reporter of May 17, 2019. The bill would apply to all clergy people, not only Catholic, and would apply to crimes other than child abuse. There was a case of murder for which the wrong man was tried, convicted, and punished, although a priest had heard the confession of the true murderer and did not report the facts. Church authorities are resisting the bill’s passage.
There are good arguments on both sides of the question. Moreover, it would not seem to be a problem only for priests. If a murder suspect is wrongly convicted, surely that is first a law enforcement error. Unfortunately, it has been known to happen where no church was involved.Continue reading “California S. B. 360”