State Legislature sets sights on Roman Catholic Church – Update

Well, it seems as if President Obama isn’t the only one who wants to reshape our institutions in new and “progressive” ways.  The Judiciary Committee of the CT General Assembly will hold a public hearing on March 11 at noon in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford concerning Raised S.B. number 1098.

Update: The hearing scheduled for March 11 concerning this bill has been canceled.

This bill would require Roman Catholic parishes to elect Boards of Directors from its lay community who will govern financial and budgetary matters, long-term capital improvement and outreach to the community among other responsibilities. The archbishop or bishop can send ex officio (non-voting) members and the pastor must report to the Board with respect to administrative or financial matters. In other words, the pastor works for the Board.

Of course, there is the obligatory – this act shall not affect the clergy’s power in matters exclusively to religious tenets or practices. Nice. I guess the Legislature believes that sticking financial bureaucracies between the clergy and its parishioners does not affect the Apostolic nature of the Catholic Church.

Also of particular interest is the final section that gives the Attorney General the authority to investigate a parish if “Any person having reason to believe that monetary contributions” are being misappropriated and not being used for the purposes given.  I suppose the Attorney General will be able to read the minds of the parishioners to know why they were giving their hard earned income thereby knowing if the funds are being misappropriated relative to the purposes given. (But that’s probably why we have all of those multi-colored donation envelopes).

I suppose this is all part of the “change” that Obama voters were looking for and the Legislature is just following suit. After all Socialism abhors Religion, so let’s try to tear that apart shall we?

Update (by Steve): Morrissey over at Hot Air picked up on this topic this morning, as did Jack Fowler over at The Corner. More than 75 percent of Americans associate themselves as Christians, and Roman Catholics make up more than 20 percent of the population.

These groups are quite vocal. I have a hunch we’ll be hearing more about this subject not only in Connecticut, but nationwide during the next few days.

Update (by Jim): The hearing is set for Wednesday at the LOB at noon and Parishes across the state are sending bus loads of people to the hearing. Representative Lawlor told us yesterday that he’s not sponsoring the bill … he just wants to give it a hearing. Well it looks like that’s just what he will get … from a lot of folks.

Presumably this bill just sprung up from some concerned Catholics … and presumably this bill just suddenly got a hearing. I would presume that this bill has some backing in the legislature … or it would not be there. Don’t buy into the “it’s an orphan bill” bit. It’s got a Daddy.

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  1. Mark on March 8, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Clearly, the justification for this intrusion is the priest who embezzled a large amount a couple of year ago. But this level of intrusion is disgusting. Singling out Catholic congregations is a horribly prejudiced. Not that this 'legislation' would be any better if it applied to all religious organizations.

  2. Wayne SW on March 8, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Lets get this straight, our inept State Govt. officials/employess can mishandle state resident personal information (stolen laptops, not securred),  how many instances now?

    Is it these same bumbling elected state leaders that blundered the rte. 84 roadwork in Cheshire, oversaw code violations in new construction work at UConn dorms in Storrs, need I go on.

    It is these same bumbling beaurocrats that want to postion themselves as the overseer for Church financials.

  3. Rick-WH on March 8, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Bob Wilson reported on this issue tonight on WTNH – Channel 8.

    Why don't we have a group of lay people to oversee the legislature?

    • sqkingsley on March 9, 2009 at 2:56 am

      Remember when it comes to "them" – "Do as I say not as I do".  They are all cheats, frauds, liars, yes – absolutely – They want to oversee the Catholic Church – We need all citizens to oversee government at all levels.

  4. DanRyanGalt on March 9, 2009 at 1:22 am

    There should be accountability for ALL non-profit and tax exempt organizations. However, I don't believe this bill is the way to achieve that end. 

    {Also of particular interest is the final section that gives the Attorney General the authority to investigate a parish if “Any person having reason to believe that monetary contributions” are being misappropriated and not being used for the purposes given.}  This statement is reminiscent of our "hate crime" laws that require getting inside the head of the person committing the alleged "hate crime". George Orwell could not have come up with a more subjective piece of legislation.

    Lets see them apply this to other religious groups especially  Islam which has been shown in some cases to use it's Mosques to funnel money to terrorist organizations.  But of course we know that will never happen.

  5. ktrelski on March 9, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I don't remember Communists controlling my parish back in Poland, but I wouldn't be surprised, but here????

    Calling it outrageous is a mild understatement. S$$& I might move back to Poland, at least there the communists and socialists are hiding and covering there tracks the best they can.

    Here if you call Obama a socialist will bring a wrath of all "progressives", including "moderate" Catholics.

    I wonder how Ms. Bysiewicz feels about that. I keep seeing her at my church.

  6. ktrelski on March 9, 2009 at 2:40 am

    I like a comment on overseeing legislature. Something state attorney general should do  but he is busy suing small businesses and now maybe Catholic Church.

  7. ktrelski on March 9, 2009 at 2:51 am

    It's time that we Catholics require that our priests follow Bishops' advice and refuse communion to "progressive and moderate" Catholic politicians, on all levels, who support abortion.

    BTW Did I read somewhere over the weekend that Catholic priests will be required by law to marry people of the same sex if they ask for that?

  8. Rick-WH on March 9, 2009 at 2:51 am

    This link is from the Family Institute of Connecticut.

    This link allows you to email all 36 members of the Judiciary Committee at once – not just Lawlor and MacDonald.

    It has been reported elsewhere that this bill is payback for opposing gay marriage (statement from a member of the Judiciary Committee).

    It is especially important for non-Catholics to write as well, identify yourself as someone other than Catholic.

    Family Institute of Connecticut will update continuously at

  9. rykscoogan on March 9, 2009 at 3:28 am

    This is just another in a long series of "shots across the bow."  And one to make note of and be alarmed about, to be sure.  And I don't think it's simply State interference in religion per se, though it is that.  Already Catholic Charities has had to abandon their adoption services in MA, and now with the inability for doctors/nurses and other medical professions to opt out of procedures (read: abortion) enhances the threat of Roman Catholic Hospitals closing.  The lawsuit against a Methodist Church in California in re: use of their gazebo for marriage services and their denial to gay couples – the lawsuit that forced Christian based eHarmony.  It is all of a piece.

    Religious charities (includes all religions) provide more "charity" and services to the poor/indigent/needy than any others.  If the State negates religion's ability to provide these service vis a vis these lawsuits/power-grabs, etc.  to whom will these people turn?

    The State.  Of course.  That is the root of these evil machinations to negate religion, etc.

  10. rykscoogan on March 9, 2009 at 3:32 am

    This is just another "shot across the bow" to negate the importance/use of religion in our lives.  If religious organizations no longer provided the services they do for the indigent/poor/needy, to whom will they turn???  To the State, of course.  And this is exactly what these "progressive" Democrats wish to see happen.

  11. rykscoogan on March 9, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Sorry for the near duplicate post, folks.  It's my first time here and I messed up.  It won't happen again.

    • Steve McGough on March 10, 2009 at 5:07 am

      You are forgiven my son.

  12. fictionwriter118 on March 9, 2009 at 4:08 am

    As deplorable as this proposed bill is, Connecticut’s Catholic bishops have only themselves to blame.


    They opened this door in 2007, by rolling over on Plan B. If the bishops called the State’s bluff to shut down the four Catholic hospitals, the State would have caved within a week! Instead, the Church caved in… to the Almighty State Dollar.


    The bishops’ abandonment of the Consistent Life Ethic led us to this ridiculous legislation.

    • rfb on March 10, 2009 at 5:07 am

      We do bring a lot of this on ourselves as Catholics. If only we would back up what we say – and I mean laypeople. We talk a good talk – but never back it up with VOTES. Three-quarters of Catholics will vote to re-elect these guys in the General Assembly – and will vote for Dodd, Leiberman, congressman AFTER they vote for FOCA. And they know it – that's why Catholic opinion is irrelevant to them.

  13. dolores7237 on March 9, 2009 at 4:10 am

    I have been a catholic for Seventy two years and I would like to state I will not be persuaded to change and listen to a council that is trying to destroy her!

  14. MarcG on March 9, 2009 at 5:02 am

    If funds are handled improperly in a Church or diocese, then that is already covered under existing criminal statutes.  It's called theft and can be prosecuted under current law.


    Why is the Catholic Church being singled out?  Why is the Connecticut General Assembly not proposing laws to change the governance of the many Protestant faiths?  Where are the proposed bills meddling with Muslims' rights to worship?  Where are the bills proposing to change the way mosques are run?


    A Church, of any faith, is a religious entity – not a for-profit corporation.  The change in the law which is being proposed is not appropriate for any religious entity which is specifically protected under the First Amendment.


    Truth be told, this is nothing more than another attack on the Catholic Church.  Last year it was forcing Catholic hospitals to dispense abortion pills, now this year's attack is in this bill before the Judiciary Committee.


    This General Assembly has shown itself to be hostile toward the Catholic Church and this is yet another manifestation of that hostility. 

  15. hogan37 on March 9, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I have become aware of the outlandish proposal contained in the subject bill, that infringes on my first ammendment right to freedom of religious choice.

    This bill will allow the state to govern how our Catholic Parishes are administered.

    NO Government shall infringe on the rights of a religious organization to dictate how it is run.

    The very idea of such a proposal leads me to believe that there is a sinister motive behind this bill to encrouch on further religious matters.

    It is interesting that the Catholic church has been songled out in this bill. Could this be because we have DARED to

    express our views on matters that are not pleasing to some "enlightened" people.

    I can assure you that my lack of support will be felt at the ballot box, and that I will make as many as I can aware of this attempted infringement of our rights.

    Although the sponsers of this bill are not in my district I can assure you that this will be relayed to constituints in thier districts.

  16. Anne-EH on March 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor, what part of the 1st Amendment does either of yous do not get?

  17. Linda Mae on March 9, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    My sister-in-law was baptized, married and had her 3 children baptized and 2 married off, buried her mom – all from their home parish – St Theresa, Agawam, MA.  They were a flourishing self sufficient parish that was just able to have extensive work done on the building. Her grandchildren were also baptized there.  She had planned to be buried from there when the day came.  EXCEPT  The Diocese decided they needed money to pay off the lawsuits from sexual harassment suits.  So, the Archbishop decided to sell off St Theresa's plus other churches in the town.  There was nothing the parishioners could do to stop him.  It is now closed and on the market.  The same thing has happened in other town.  It is too bad that parishes cannot be independent of the Archbishop.  Of course appeals were denied.  The Church needs to overhaul its system of control.  Not, of course, the state.  The Constitution bans the creation of a State religion – a la Henry the VII – .

  18. theignorantfisherman on March 9, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    My fellow Nutmegger's…..What else would we expect the Government to do??  They have been heading this way for years. The Nazi's tried to replace Christianity with Nazism. It's a Leftist socialistic trait. Wake of fellow Nutmeggers…fascism is coming!! The State is God! It's sad to say that many can believe that this can happen to us. The ground is ripe as was the 30's..May Almighty God be our strength!

    Almighty God save CT!!

  19. Dom Rosa on March 10, 2009 at 6:26 am

    After hearing Jim's announcement during the first hour of the March 10 program, I attended the 11:00AM news conference at the Legislative Office building, Hearing Room 1E. Two oustanding presentations were made by Tom Gallagher and Paul Lakeland. Copies of their statements and backgrounds were handed out. In my opinion, their proposals would have a very positive impact on the Catholic Church in CT. Jim's opinions on this issue are completely twisted and self-serving. I urge all Catholics to obtain more information. E-mail addresses removed by management. (sjm)

    • Wyndeward on March 10, 2009 at 9:06 am

      The problem is not whether or not the proposed changes are good, but whether or not the wall between church and state should be breached in this fashion.  If religious institutions are not to involve themselves directly in political matters, the state has no business intruding similarly into the affairs of the church.  Additionally, to single out a single religious sect in this fashion, if permitted to proceed, would set a dangerous precedent.

      Even if your desire is to "do good," it still must be done properly.  To condone a breach of Constitutional protections because one admires the goals of the breach is a dangerous folly — it weakens *all* Constitutional protections by granting a precedent that others might use to their own ends.

    • Dom Rosa on March 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

      I completely agree that the CT legislature should not be involved in this process. Unfortunately, the Religious Corporation Act already exists. Gallagher, Lakeland et al. would like to see this Act amended, if the Act itself is constitutional, so that the Catholic layity can have more involvement in the oversight of financial matters. As Lakeland said in his printed statement: "Catholic lay people want to exercise accountability for their own parishes, … because in recent years the present system has shown itself to be faulty."

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