The Archdiocese of San Francisco has a new webpage for Catholics who oppose Senate Bill 360, a California bill which if passed would force priests to disclose information heard in the sacrament of confession.

The page includes video from Catholic priests on the seal of confession, a letter template for writing to your Assembly member, and suggested pulpit and bulletin announcements.

Under current California law, as in almost every other state, clergy members (along with a long list of other professionals, including physicians, day care workers, teachers, and coaches) are “mandated reporters.” This means they are legally required to report any case of suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement. However, California clergy who come by this knowledge in the context of “penitential communication” are currently exempted from the requirement. SB 360 would remove the exemption.

The California bishops have called the penitential seal “one of the most sacrosanct of Catholic beliefs.”

Andy Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, issued the following statement following the Senate passage of SB 360 on May 23:

“While the California Catholic Conference shares the desire to combat the scourge of sexual abuse of minors and is committed to strengthening mandatory reporting requirements, interjecting the government into the confessional is not going to accomplish that objective and could undermine the guarantee of confidentiality all of us depend upon.”

The above comes from a June 14 story in Catholic San Francisco.