Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General, has asked all 12 dioceses in California to preserve files and documents that concern their compliance as mandatory reporters of child abuse to local law enforcement.
In addition, the Attorney General’s Office has asked that six of the 12 dioceses voluntarily produce these same documents so that the AG’s Office can monitor their compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. Those arch/dioceses are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Orange, Sacramento and San Jose.
Dioceses are committed to working with the civil authorities and have gone to great lengths to educate staff, volunteers and parishioners on mandatory reporting laws and recognizing the signs of sexual abuse.
In addition, as Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto pointed out in response to the letter from the Attorney General “even those who are not mandated reporters are reminded of the moral obligation to be aware for the signs of child abuse and to report it when there is a reasonable suspicion an abuse has occurred.”
Arch/diocese are expected to cooperate with the AG’s request.
The loss of credibility the Bishops created over the last several decades has led to this necessary secular oversight.
One could make two arguments about this: 1) That secular oversight was always necessary and that 2) Appeals to religious freedom in other areas of secular law are likely to fall short when all is said and done in part because of the failure to address this one issue.