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Valley Catholic Church leader speaks about against Senate Bill 360: Mandated reporters, clergy

Monsignor Howard Lincoln at Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert tells News Channel 3 he spoke against Senate Bill 360, during all masses last weekend.

He says he shared points made by the Bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino, in a letter the Bishop sent to all parishes.

“There is no evidence whatsoever, that forcing a priest to disclose what he heard in a confession, would have prevented a single case of child sex abuse,” said the Monsignor.

Lincoln, and the Bishop contend the bill would “break the seal of confession”.

Confession is a church sacrament, which usually takes place behind closed doors, in which a member of the faith, confesses sin.

The bishop also wrote, “This proposed government intrusion into such a central Catholic practice is an affront to our faith and it should be viewed by all as a threat to religious liberty”.

“The seal of confession is non-negotiable, it is absolute, it is inviolable, and it must always be there,” said Lincoln.

Under current law, priests and other clergy are required to serve as mandated reporters, when they have knowledge of child sex abuse, or if they “reasonably suspect” it. However, what they hear in a confessional, they are not required to report.

State Senator Jeff Stone, whose district covers much of Riverside County, is among 4 state senators who voted against the bill.

John Thoresen, the director of the Barbra Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage is among those who support SB 360.

“Having the clergy, and in the Catholic Church, getting the clergy to be mandated reporters, beyond what they are supposed to be doing before, I think will be very helpful to our cause,” said Thoresen.

Raised Catholic, Thoresen says he can understand the church’s opposition to the legislation, but contends the benefits of the bill outweigh any potential downside.

He says the center has treated some child victims of clergy abuse, along with adults abused by clergy as children.

“We need to protect these children,” said Thoresen.

There is no date set yet for when the State Assembly will vote on the bill.

Senator Jeff Stone issued the following statement to News Channel 3 on Senate Bill 360.

“Confession has been a [sic] time honored religious practice for centuries. Passing this will set a precedent that government can force its will on ALL religious institutions. Again, our Constitutional Rights are being eroded and attacked with this type of dangerous legislation.”

The link below provides the full text of SB-360, along with supplemental information.

Link: SB 360

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