San José Bishop Cantú Tells Catholics: Urge Your Representative to Vote NO on SB 360

San José Bishop Oscar Cantú is asking all California Catholics to contact their state representatives immediately and urge them to vote NO on CA Senate Bill (SB) 360, the "CA Confession Bill." Immaculate Heart of Mary Chaplain, Canon Raphael Ueda asks oratory members join in protest against this bill that is a challenge to the Seal of the Confessional.  The bill passed the state senate on May 23, 2019. According to Religion News Service, the bill “now moves on to the state assembly, where it must pass through committees before it receives a floor vote.” The vote in the assembly is expected in September. If passed, the bill will amend the California Penal Code to require priests to divulge information received during confession about child abuse or neglect in certain cases.


See for Bishop Cantú’s Statement on the CA Confession Bill.

The Proposed Change

The proposed change to the law would require priests to report information about child abuse obtained in a confession from a fellow priest or from any person who works in the same facility or location as the priest. Bishop Cantú explains in the video that the Church automatically excommunicates priests if they reveal what they learn in sacramental confession, and the government should not force priests to choose between excommunication and jail.

Bishop Cantú states this change would not be effective, would set a dangerous precedent, and would “chip away with government intrusion on one of the most sacred aspects of our Catholic faith and practice.” SB 360 is “an affront against the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Seal of Confession” and an “assault against the freedom of religion.”

How to Contact Your State Assembly Representative

This site allows you to find your state assembly representative easily:

A complete list of state assembly representatives along with suggestions about what to say in a phone call to your representative’s office may be found at this information page prepared by St. Francis Cabrini Church in the San Jose Diocese:

Details about the Amendment

The proposed amendment in SB 360 would change the California Penal Code Section as shown in the italicized text in the excerpt below from

Existing law, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, makes certain persons, including clergy, mandated reporters. Under existing law, clergy are required to report whenever the clergy, in their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment, has knowledge of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect, except when the clergy acquires the knowledge or reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect during a penitential communication. Failure by a mandated reporter to report an incident of known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor.

This bill would further define a penitential communication for purposes of the exception. The bill would also exempt from the exemption any penitential communication made between a clergy member and another person employed at the same facility or location as that clergy member, or between a clergy member and another clergy member.  .  .  .

A mandated reporter who fails to report an incident of known or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect as required by this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months confinement in a county jail or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by both that imprisonment and fine.

The “clergy-penitent privilege” is similar to the privilege of confidentiality between patients and doctors or lawyers and their clients.  Interestingly, the law (as it stands now before the potential amendment) already defines as “mandatory reporters” medical and mental health professionals and attorneys, even though patient-doctor and lawyer-client communications have previously been almost-universally protected under the law. SB 360 would erode these kinds of protections even further as it would intrude the government into the privacy of the Sacrament of Penance itself.

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.