Connecticut State Legislature introduced bill #1098/2009

This sounds like something directly from a Michael O’Brian novel:

Dear Fr. Z,

The Lord’s peace.   You are going to be one of the first to hear about this.  Nothing like this in the history of the US has ever been proposed as far as I know.

Yesterday, Connecticut Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature
introduced bill #1098/2009 that directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church (please see attached copy of it).  Should it pass, the bishop and pastors will be deprived of any administrative, financial and legal power over their parishes

The bishops of CT are trying to rally the troops this weekend.  I think your readers, and Catholics all over the US should be concerned.

In Christ,
 
Fr. Greg J. Markey

Fr. Greg J. Markey has been the topic of posts on this blog.

He is pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, CT.

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157 Responses to Connecticut State Legislature introduced bill #1098/2009

  1. Ioannes Andreades says:

    K of C are among the troops being rallied. Was a weird piece of legislation, at least to my non-lawyer eyes. Connecticut is on the front lines of the cultural battles being waged. Gay marriage is now safely the law of the land as is the necessary making available of plan B to all rape victims.

  2. Brian says:

    I am not totally sure what this is all about, but I too am concerned. It seems like the state should have really nothing to do with how the Church governs herself.

  3. Alessandro says:

    What happens now? Certain demons can only be casted out by prayer and fasting…but, what happens. Is this serious? What are the chances of it being passed. This is my diocese…

  4. Jim says:

    I just took a quick look at the bill. It is truly horrible. It puts the corporation in the hands of a board elected by the people. The bishop is an ex officio member without the right to vote. It is directly antagonistic to the heirarchical government of the Roman Catholic Church. It effectively forces Catholics to become Congregationalists. This statute cannot withstand scrutiny under the U. S. Constitution, particularly the “Free Exercise” Clause. Nevertheless, it is shocking that such an anti-Catholic bill could even be introduced. Time to roll out the big guns, Father.

  5. Alessandro says:

    Where can you find a copy of the bill?

  6. Jim says:

    The Connecticut General Assembly has a website. You can find the text of the bill by entering the bill number (1098). Don’t put in the year or the # symbol. I had to try several times before I was able to access the bill. I believe it was just recently introduced.

  7. JP Borberg says:

    So much for the separation of Church and state.

  8. Pomeroy on the palouse says:
  9. Padre Steve says:

    This is amazing… I pray this meets a swift and certain defeat. It sure does sound like an O’Brien novel!

  10. PMcGrath says:

    Ioannes: Don’t forget that the Knights have their world HQ in New Haven. If you want the big guns, that’s where you’ll find them.

    It looks like it’s unconstitutional to me.

    Can any of the canon lawyers chime in on how this conflicts with canon law?

  11. Jerry says:

    Just one more example of how this now, Obamanation, is on the “road to hell in a handbasket”!

  12. Paul says:

    Several things (from someone with legal training): First, parishes and dioceses are organized as corporations in many states, including Connecticut. States maintain religious corporation laws separately from their business corporation laws so as not to burden religious institutes with as many of the complexities of corporate law. Second, this bill would not require dioceses to be organized along these lines—it would only require that if they continue to be, or become, organized as religious corporations. The diocese could be an LLC, or an Limited Partnership, or some other form of entity. This does not diminish the fact that this is a terribly anti-Catholic piece of legislation. The Church has good reasons for preferring to be organized as a series of religious corporations in the US. This bill would obviously make that impossible. But a workaround could probably be found. I will leave aside the political question of whether the bill will ever leave its committee. The legislation, if adopted, would probably be found unconstitutional anyways, as I seriously doubt it meets even the lenient standards established by the Supreme Court in Employment Division v. Smith, as the law is not neutral and generally applicable, nor could the state likely demonstrate a compelling interest in regulating diocesan organization in this manner.

    The text of the current statute (33 CGSA 279, 281) is below:

    279. A corporation may be organized in connection with any Roman Catholic Church or congregation in this state, by filing in the office of the Secretary of the State a certificate signed by the archbishop or bishop and the vicar-general of the archdiocese or of the diocese in which such congregation is located and the pastor and two laymen belonging to such congregation, stating that they have so organized for the purposes hereinafter mentioned. Such archbishop or bishop, vicar-general and pastor of such congregation and, in case of the death or other disability of the archbishop or bishop, the administrator of the archdiocese or diocese for the time being, the chancellor of the archdiocese or diocese and the pastor of such congregation shall be members, ex officio, of such corporation, and, upon their death, resignation, removal or preferment, their successors in office shall become such members in their stead. The two lay members shall be appointed annually, in writing, during the month of January from the lay members of the congregation by a majority of the ex-officio members of the corporation; and three members of the corporation, of whom one shall be a layman, shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

    281. Such corporation shall at all times be subject to the general laws and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, and shall receive and enjoy its franchises as a body politic, solely for the purposes mentioned in section 33-280; and, upon the violation or surrender of its charter, its property, real and personal, shall vest in the archbishop or bishop of the archdiocese or diocese and his successors, in trust for such congregation and for the uses and purposes above named.

  13. Jerry says:

    Canon lawyers have no say in this. This is your CT state government.

    Bring on constitutional lawyers.

  14. Rancher says:

    This latest assault on the Church borders on the unbelievable. The evil one (this time I mean Satan not Obama though both qualify) seems to be pulling out the stops in attacking the Church. Perhaps he sees an opening given all that the administration is doing without opposition. Just jump on the band wagon. The so-called United Nations also provided a forum today for even more Church bashing because of the Church’s pro-life stance. St. Michael be with us in this time of battle.

  15. ED says:

    This is what happens when the Bishops and Knights of Columbus allow pro-abortion clergy and laity in their ranks. This nonsense will stop when they themselves suffer pain!!!

  16. Erin says:

    Text of the bill is here: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/TOB/S/2009SB-01098-R00-SB.htm.

    I can’t see how it would avoid running afoul of the Free Exercise Clause.

  17. Patricia says:

    Bill can be read in full at website of CT State Legislature (google it) then at Senate/ list of bills/ march 5. I have a question as a convert. What is the advantage of a parish or diocese organizing itself as a “corporation”. In fact, it seems that the category of corporation conflicts with the Church’s purpose to be in the world and not of the world. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” seems to say that if you wish to be more than just the One Holy and Catholic Church, but wish to apply to be a “state corporation” then you have placed yourself within the providence of Caesar. I had read some history of the New Orleans Diocese in its very early history which seemed to have fallen prey to much trouble by being influenced by American ways of operating within the financial dealings of state by local politicians and financiers. The notion of corporation does not seem to be an ecclesial notion, and perhaps this reveals itself in this current attempt to correct ecclesial problems in the Church by way of the state political process. I may be totally wrong of course.

  18. Jack Smith says:

    Thanks for this post. I think something fishy is going on here. I spoke w/ the Judiciary Committee in CT today and the staff said it was the committee’s own idea. Also, VOTF has been pushing this idea – http://catholickey.blogspot.com/2009/03/trusteeism-bill-introduced-in.html

  19. Matt Q says:

    Despite what Connecticut decides to pass, this won’t stand from any legal challenge. There’s no due process for the local church–which in technically a private entity, the State has no lawful interest in the act, and, two, it’s unconstitutional. It is against First Amendment guarantees, specifically passing a law singularly naming the Catholic Church is discriminatory against Catholicism and thus “prohibits the free exercise thereof.” There is no justified or “compelling” reason why the State would singularly act against the Church in this regard. In spite of the horrid bigotry herein and an indication of the times, Connecticut has no power to act.

    Further, where is the text of the actual bill? What is the wording and what is the state’s arguments for such an outrageously absurd provocation?

  20. Steve K. says:

    I’m speechless. I would say, how could anyone possibly propose something like this with a straight face, given the Bill of Rights – this is direct state interference in religious freedom – but then I recall how other things have been invented out of legal thin air, like the ‘right’ to abortion, gay ‘marriage’ and so forth. Most of us will live to see the day that the government, our government, actively persecutes the Church. It seems like the writing has been on the wall for a long time, but it’s still shocking to see it actually getting under way.

  21. Steve K. says:

    Could the legislators, or the state of CT itself, be sued for religious discrimination or harassment?

  22. Crusader says:

    Obama is evil, and he is causing all sorts of brazen evil to manifest itself all over our country, including this attack on the Church in CT, and including all the attacks recently on the Holy Father. It will only get worse… do you know that Obama’s new limousine is nicknamed “The Beast”? Do you know that Obama will sign a bill on Monday that OKs our money paying to kill and experiment on human embryos? Do you know that the Illinois State Lottery pick for the day after Obama’s election was 666? Do you see the criminals and liars he has picked for his cabinet? Including a pornography lawyer and defender? Do you know how pro-abortion this evil man is? Do you sense how much the US is changing before our eyes since his election? How he is detroying our economy? How he is slowly taking over our financial institutions and our health care? Is this not how the Beast will operate? He talks about global solutions, which raises the specter of One World Government led by the anti-Christ. Do you see how adoring his crowds are? It is time to see this man for who he may really be… and prepare ourselves with our Faith, the Rosary, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass… pray, pray, pray… and watch what Obama does next!

  23. This sounds like a power play reply to the USCCB’s threat to close down Catholic Hospitals rather than have their doctors forced to perform abortions if the HHS Conscience Protection Regulation is overturned or if the FOCA passes, both promises made by Obama.

    http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2009/09-046.shtml
    http://www.lifenews.com/nat4865.html

  24. This sounds like a power play reply to the USCCB’s threat to close down Catholic Hospitals rather than have their doctors forced to perform abortions if the HHS Conscience Protection Regulation is overturned or if the FOCA passes, both promises made by Comrade Chancellor Sotero.

    http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2009/09-046.shtml
    http://www.lifenews.com/nat4865.html

    God Bless,
    Bob
    http://CatholicConservativeAmerican.blogspot.com

  25. There are a few points to consider, and perhaps the law is not the demonic attack on the Church that some are making it out to be. Primarily it is helpful to look at section h, which reads:

    Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, restrict or derogate from any power, right, authority, duty or responsibility of the bishop or pastor in matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices.

    Second, this bill is not directing to the Church how it may or may not run its hierarchal organization, but is simply establishing rules of incorporation, which are applicable to any organization within the State of Connecticut. I think section b is a little bit odd, and perhaps challengable, and I think there needs to be greater clarification between e(5) vis-a-vis h, but I really don’t see this as the great attack against the Church that many are making it out to be.

  26. Hidden One says:

    This bill needs a good swatting, regardless.

  27. Vincent says:

    “Such corporation shall at all times be subject to the general laws and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church.”

    That would seem to contradict everything else in the bill.

  28. John Enright says:

    This bill runs counter to the Free Exercise Clause and the Anti-Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Any attempt to impose a congregational structure on the Catholic Church will ultimately fail.

  29. Mark says:

    This bill clearly limits the powers of the Bishop to “…matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices.”. In practice, he will have no say in how the parish’s financial resources, now controlled by the lay board, will be used. Experience tells us, of course, that the laity potentially in charge of these resources will most likely come from the “progressive” faction within the Church. In other words, we pretty much know that the money will be spent on “progressive” projects, which exclude many social concerns of our Church.

    I’m familiar with past attempts to unionize lay employees of parishes in South Texas. In this scheme, once a parish was successfully unionized, the union then attempted to force the Bishop to “contract out” a priest to them for a period of time, and demanded that the priest and the Bishop sign a union contract. The powers of the priest and the Bishop over the parish, plus the length of the priest’s appointment, were spelled out by the union. Nothing came if it then (about eight years ago), but I wouldn’t be surprised if a replay will not be attempted in today’s climate.

  30. ckdexterhaven says:

    The democrat party and Obama (especially Obama) have declared War on the American Catholic Church. The appointment of all the pro choice Catholics, our Vice President, Speaker of the House, etc is designed to divide the American Church. American Catholicism has been the number one foe of abortion, and Obama/democrats need 50% of Catholics voting for them.

  31. Michael R. says:

    Could this be an attempt to avert a wave of parish closings, such as the ones that happened in Boston?

  32. Cornelius says:

    The very fact that there are reasonable voices in this thread that argue that this bill does NOT violate the First Amendment shows that its nullification by a court as unconstitutional is NOT a foregone conclusion.

    What has the last 35 years of court rulings proven to us other than that courts can, and do, rule their judicial wills rather than the law? Roe v. Wade alone has demonstrated that, and in California we are seeing the inalienable right of a people to alter their own constitution under attack, with the outcome by no means certain (this is, after all, a California court).

    This is exceptionally dangerous, methinks.

  33. Jim Morgan says:

    The wording of this bill is misleading. It clearly is intended as an attempt to punish the Church for her opposition to abortion. The bill’s sponsors realize how outrageous this is and surely know it would not stand a court challenge. But no matter; this is a shot across the Church’s bow.

    Not at all surprised that VOTF likes it, but that’s another story. This bill is the camel’s nose under the tent and should be opposed as vigorously as possible.

    Jim Morgan
    Lovettsville, Virginia

  34. Fr. A says:

    Michael: “I really don’t see this as the great attack against the Church that many are making it out to be.”

    Then, you need to go back a read it again.

  35. Jeff Pinyan says:

    33-279.1.h: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, restrict or derogate from any power, right, authority, duty or responsibility of the bishop or pastor in matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices.”

    In other words, bishops and priests become simply “sacramental ministers”, and the lay people (to whom the PASTOR must REPORT, cf. 33-279.1.f) run the “organization”. Pastors stop being “shepherds”, then. A pastor is simply the head of the parish’s “priest union”.

  36. Fr. A says:

    Jeff Pinyan:

    Correct. We’d simply be there to consecrate and absolve. This is an illegal and unconstitutional move by a state legislature to make the Catholic Church conform to a Protestant model of organization.

  37. EDG says:

    I read the statute and it struck me as truly bizarre. It essentially hands everything over to a lay board and minutely details their duties, as well as then stating that the only thing the priests and bishops can have any say over are “exclusively religious” matters, whatever that might mean. I can’t see how the state can get away with this. The US has a long history of attempts by lay boards or lay trustees to seize the bishop’s authority; I live in Florida, where we had a very bitter and long running problem with this in the early 19th century. Even so, this was done by the people themselves, and not imposed by the state.

    Personally, I think it’s an attempt to set up a situation where AmChurch can be born. At some point, Obama is going to do something that the USCCB cannot find a way to excuse and all of the bishops will have to decide whether to respond firmly or not. Those who do will remain united to Rome. Those who offer their pinch of incense to Obama, however, will soon be on their way to establishing the American Catholic Church. This is a way of setting up the infrastructure to make that easier and also ensure that they maintain control of the property. OK, tinfoil hat off, brainwaves set back to normal…and I still think it’s a possibility.

  38. ustalumus says:

    Something like this was attempted in Michigan in the 1850’s. I do not have the specifics on hand at the moment. It failed to pass.

  39. Jim says:

    I think this is about taxation. Churches are not constitutionally exempt from taxation. Tax-free status is statutory.

    The tradional \”corporation sole\” used by many dioceses is an anomaly and many dioceses have recognized the need to get away from that form.

    I read the bill as an awkward attempt to protect donors. Right now, most dioceses and parishes have no transparency. A donor cannot be sure that his or her gift is being used for the purposes intended.

    The Church may not be used to this level of transparency, but most nonprofits have realized that transparency increases donations.

    A good example is IRS Form 990: nonprofits file this reporting form with the IRS every year. Most churches, Catholic and otherwise, do not. A large donor is not going to give his money to an entity that won\’t disclose how it uses the money.

    Many dioceses are in the process of huge capital campaigns to fund educational and ministerial endowments: without a lot more transparency, these efforts will fail.

  40. Cathguy says:

    The Knights of Columbus in Connecticut are on it. Individual Knights are sending emails and engaging those who would support the legislation in discussion. There is even talk of organizing bus trips from the parishes.

    The legal advise posted by Paul is excellent. BUT… hard experience in this state has taught me never to trust a lawyer when he says “calm down… you are over-reacting.”

    I heard the EXACT SAME THING when we discussed the civil unions bill in this state. Those of us in the KofC and in the Family Institute of Connecticut said that the civil unions bill would be used a means of foisting gay marriage on the state. We were right. Those legal experts who said “this bill has NOTHING TO DO with gay marriage” were either wrong or lying.

    This bill is DANGEROUS. Pray.

    Also, there is a disturbing trend in our state (maybe the nation?) when citizens speak out on legislation they are often criticized because they are not lawyers. This is silly. This is supposed to be a democracy, not a nation run by legal experts. We could lose our democracy if this sort of junk continues. I do not think I am exaggerating.

  41. Paul Madrid says:

    Patricia, parishes and dioceses have been organized as corporations for hundreds of years, well before it was ever thought of to incorporate businesses. Incorporating parishes and dioceses makes complete sense, as under canon law both institutions are considered legal persons separate from their members. Making the institutions legal persons in civil law (i.e., incorporating them) allows parishes and dioceses to hold property and pass that property on to the next parish priest or diocesan bishop without running afoul of inheritance laws. There are other options of property ownership these days, but none of them are as simple as corporate ownership.

  42. William Tighe says:

    This bill, if enacted, would transform the organizational principles of the Catholic Church in Connecticut into one to all intents and purposes the same as that of the Polish National Catholic Church in the USA.

  43. little gal says:

    Can someone who is in the know re: the Knights of Columbus & CT suggest how those of us in other states can support their efforts? Thanks

  44. prof. basto says:

    Is this like the French law on associations of worship that passed in the first decade of the 20th Century and was hammered by Pope St. Pius X as a direct attack against the Church?

    Is this constitutional vis a vis the free exercise of religion provision contained in the First Amendment of your Federal Constitution?

    I mean: the Catholic Faith, the Catholic religion, is one that cannot be lived but in hierarchical communion with the Pope, with the Bishops he appoints or confirms, with the parish priests duly installed in accordance with the sacred canons, etc.

    So, any State measure that is directed at impeding or blocking the governance of the Church by her canonical hierarchy is a detriment to the free exercise of the Catholic religion.

    A State action that interferes with the internal governance of the Church, with her property, that impedes the bishop from controlling a parish, or that is otherwise AIMED at blocking the hierarchical organization of the Church or affecting her internal discipline (Canon Law), can only be seen as an attempt to render the free exercise of authentic Catholic religion impossible.

    What is next: a Patriotic Catholic Church, like China’s?

  45. Jeannie says:

    PPcGrath asked, “Can any of the canon lawyers chime in on how this conflicts with canon law?”

    Jerry replied, “Canon lawyers have no say in this. This is your CT state government.”

    If the civil law were to require that the bishop give to a lay board some power that is his alone in canon law, there would indeed be a problem, would there not? Bishops would have to choose whether to comply with civil law or canon law. In addition, the corporate organization of a diocese and its parishes determines which assets of the church are vulnerable when a church entity is sued in civil court. The obligation of a bishop to safeguard the assets of parishes could be compromised by some forms of civil organization.

    It appears that this sort of conflict is on the rise. Is there a canonist who can comment? Even better, is there a JD, JCD out there who can comment on the interplay between the requirements of canon law and the proposed requirements of the state of Connecticut?

  46. Athanasius says:

    Despite what Connecticut decides to pass, this won’t stand from any legal challenge. There’s no due process for the local church—which in technically a private entity, the State has no lawful interest in the act, and, two, it’s unconstitutional.

    We should stop deluding ourselves. Agreements, laws, constitutions and the like are only valid as long as the government is interested in enforcing them. The Soviet Constitution looks very similar to the American Constitution, gives similar freedoms (sometimes more) but in reality it was just a show document. None of those freedoms were given and life there was very different from life here.

    The government is the determiner of the interpretation of law, be it through the courts or through the legislative body or the executive office. In a just society that something was “unconstitutional” would count for something. We’ve been past that for a long time now.

  47. Fred says:

    It is important for the church to understand who we are up against. Sen. Andrew McDonald who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and who proposed this bill, was one of the first people in Connecticut to enter into a “Gay Marriage” in the state. He and another man live together as a couple.

  48. fortradition says:

    “United we stand. Divided we fall.” ALL of our Bishops across the U.S. must unite and stand together to defend our Churches and our Catholic beliefs. Should a case such as this ever go to the Supreme Court, we must pray now for the health of Justices Roberts (Chief), Alito, Scalia, and Thomas and the conversion of Justice Kennedy, as well as the conversion of the other Justices. Seems “separation of Church and state” only exists on a one-way street.

  49. wmeyer says:

    “but I really don’t see this as the great attack against the Church that many are making it out to be.”

    Michael, consider that this would establish in precedent–which is the foundation of much of our law–the right of the state to control how the Church manages its financial affairs. Then consider what happens when the Church mounts an expensive campaign against the supporters of abortion, and the state decides to amend the legislation in support of controlling how Church monies may be spent.

    We must never forget two things:
    1. The liberals have made their political gains slowly and steadily, chipping away at the laws and at the Constitution. The Obamanation was no overnight occurrence, rather it is the result of 100+ years of incremental gains made by liberals who vote as though their lives depended on party unity.
    2. A great deal of the law passed since 1890 is truly in violation of the Constitution, yet it stands as law. Therefore, do not hang your hopes on the Constitution.

    Finally, the “separation of church and state”, which has never been a part of the Constitution, but is found only in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, has routinely worked to the detriment of the Church and of churches throughout the land. It is the weapon of choice for the ACLU. We should not be supporting it, any more than did the authors of the Constitution.

  50. Federico says:

    Athanasius is right on in pointing out that the government gets to enforce laws or, as he put it,

    The government is the determiner of the interpretation of law, be it through the courts or through the legislative body or the executive office. In a just society that something was “unconstitutional” would count for something. We’ve been past that for a long time now.

    That being said, jurisprudence firmly establishes guidelines against discriminatory laws (see e.g. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 113 S.Ct. 2217 [1993]). Furthermore, recent cases in federal courts have consistently enforced these rigid standards against discrimination against churches (see e.g. Falwell v. Miller, 203 F.Supp.2d 624 [W.D. Va., 2002]).

    If this law were enacted, I have little doubt that a talented legal team could get a federal court (probably not a state court) to declare it invalid on establishment clause and federal jurisprudence on point. Things might change, but not that quickly. So, for now, it’s safe to say that if the CT legislature were to pass it, a federal court would spank them.

    Even if it were to pass, I think a smart civil attorney could work with a canonist to put sufficient restrictions and limits in the internal governance to get around the more painful points of the law.

    Still, good one to fight against. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.

    Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and this does not establish any form of attorney client relationship with anybody.

  51. Tom Craughwell says:

    I live in Connecticut, and I have just emailed my representative, my senator, and the two sponsors of the bill. Please note that the bill does not call for the reorganization of any other denomination in the state. This is the most blatant attempt by a state government to curtail the liberty of Catholics since the Know Nothings of the 19th century.

  52. EDG says:

    Tom Craughwell – I’ve been thinking about this all morning, ever since I read it, and it is blatantly anti-Catholic. Do you know what inspired it? Is there a particular person or group working against the Church? Or was there some kind of an incident that stirred this up? It just seems to have come out of the blue, but I don’t live in CT, so I don’t know.

  53. Cathguy says:

    If anyone here is interested in helping, you can visit the Family Institute of Connecticut. They have sent out an email alert about this. I have pasted it here.

    Also, you can visit their website at ctfamily.org

    Pray and take action.

    Action

    Big Turnout Needed Wednesday, March 11th to Stop Major New Attack on Religious Liberty!

    The Lawlor-and-McDonald-controlled Judiciary Committee has introduced Raised Bill 1098, a bill aimed specifically at the Catholic Church, which would remove the authority of the bishop and pastor over individual parishes and put a board of laymen in their place. Yes, we’re asking the same questions you are (Where does the legislature have the authority to do this? Isn’t this a blatant violation of the First Amendment?), but we assure you that this is not a hoax.

    We need as big a turnout as possible for the public hearing on Wednesday, especially from non-Catholics. As Ben Franklin told the Founders while they were signing the Declaration of Independence, “either we hang together or we will all hang separately.” Legislators need to understand that this bill is an attack on everyone’s religious liberty.

    If the legislature can replace a bishop with a board of laymen in the Catholic Church, they can just as easily replace the governing lay structure of Congregationalist or Baptist churches with someone set up as a bishop. In fact, it was resistance to such government interference in the internal life of the church that gave birth to several of our most historic denominations. Thanks to this awful bill, our generation must now rise up to defend those hard-fought victories for religious liberty that were won for us by our ancestors.

    The Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on R.B. 1098 on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 12: 00 P. M. in Room 2C of the LOB. Please submit 45 copies of written testimony to Committee staff at least two hours prior to the start of the hearing in Room 2500 of the LOB. Testimony submitted after the designated time may not be distributed until after the hearing. Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 10: 00 A. M. in Room 2500 of the LOB. Sign-up will conclude 30 minutes before the start of the hearing. Speaker order will be decided by a lottery system. Anyone wishing to testify after the drawing is closed will be placed at the end of the list. The first hour of the hearing is reserved for public officials. Speakers will be limited to 3 minutes of testimony.

    Watch for more information on this bill and on contacting legislators on Monday.

  54. Fred says:

    To EDG, see my comment above-(I think #46) Senator McDonald HATES the church. this is his version of “Pay-Back”.

  55. mrteachersir says:

    Michael,

    You quote section h, which says:
    “Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, restrict or derogate from any power, right, authority, duty or responsibility of the bishop or pastor in matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices.”

    This is akin to a piece of legislation that was introduced last year in Pennsylvania, which would have completely re-organized Catholic schools, placing employment under the jurisdiction of the Labor Relations Board. That legislation said the same thing, but such language is moot, as the rest of the bill removes the authority of the Bishop to hire those teachers who are in communion with Rome on all aspects of Church teaching, which undermines the purpose of a Catholic school.

  56. Father Totton says:

    EDG,

    did you read the comment above about the official who introduced the bill? Senator Andrew McDonald, one half of the first gay couple to be recognized under CT law. Furthermore, it may well be a response to the threat (obligation) on the part of bishops to shut down Catholic Healthcare should FOCA pass. I am sure there are other reasons, but those are two you may glean from simply reading through the comments before posting!

  57. Jim says:

    Of course, the Church can free itself of governmental interference if it just gives up its tax-exempt/tax-deductible status. It is the acceptance of this special tax status that gives the government some interest in making sure the books at parishes and dioceses are being kept legitimately.

    Would Catholics give less if their donations were not tax-deductible? Ideally, no; but practically, yes.

  58. Paul says:

    “The legal advise posted by Paul is excellent. BUT… hard experience in this state has taught me never to trust a lawyer when he says ‘calm down… you are over-reacting.'”

    If I may clarify, I don’t think people’s visceral reactions of disgust are misplaced—this is a very bad bill. I simply opined that even if it were to be adopted, its effects could likely be mitigated. That doesn’t diminish the fact that the bill is offensive (both in the sense of “causes offense to reasonable sensibilities” and “attack”) or bigoted. I was simply trying to point out contingency options. But I don’t blame you for being skeptical about legal calls for calm, especially given the marriage case.

    As for the constitutional question, yes, the American legal system is in some senses broken. In many cases there is a vast disconnect between constitutional text and tradition and what the Court declares the law to be. But in areas of more or less settled doctrine, American courts tend to follow precedents. These things would be somewhat unpredictable in any human system. So the fair bet would be that a federal court would apply the binding precedents (even if the rules in those precedents are wrong, objectively speaking), and strike down this legislation.

    Last note, re: sec. (h) — if a law has a general rule (e.g. “Catholic churches are governed by a lay board”) and a conflicting more specific rule (e.g. “Bishops are entitled to govern religious matters”), the specific rule is regarded as an exception to the general rule. The application in this case, of course, would simply be a farce.

    Call your representative.

  59. little gal says:

    I just went over to the USCCB website to see if there was anything pertaining to this. From my quick scan there doesn’t appear to be. But, as I looked at their efforts to short circuit FOCA (everyone, please go over there and send an email to your congressional representatives), it occurred to me that because the Church is trying to shape legislation that it will increasingly be a target. It’s war, pure and simple.

  60. I csn’t help but think of the story: they cme for the Jews and I was silent. They came for the Protestants and I remained silent. They came for the Roman Catholics and I remained silent. Now they have come for me and there is no one left to speak up for me. Dear Brothers and Sisters the time has come that we must all. people of good will, hang together or most assuredly we will hang separately. May God have mercy on us all. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Amen

  61. Karen says:

    Jim said – I read the bill as an awkward attempt to protect donors. Right now, most dioceses and parishes have no transparency. A donor cannot be sure that his or her gift is being used for the purposes intended.

    First of all, we get an annual statement of our finances, with every charitable organization listed. Also, in the Sunday bulletin we know the collections of the previous week and what the money was raised for – extra donations.

    Our priest is the head of our finance department, and the final word on spending. As a result, we have had a extra building envelope every month, we paid off our mortgage that we got to enlarge the Church and build additional buildings in 8 years. We have now substituted the building fund with St Vincent de Paul fund.

    All contributions are voluntary. No one is forced to give. If someone does not feel comfortable that his money is being used properly he can move on down the road. There are hundreds of other Churches to attend. It’s not like public schooling where we can either attend, or pay to go elsewhere. If they really believed that people had a right to determine that their money is spent properly, they would be busy passing a school voucher system, and passing targeted taxes, whereby the citizens could demand that their taxes not be used for immoral purposes.

  62. wmeyer says:

    Jim said: “Of course, the Church can free itself of governmental interference if it just gives up its tax-exempt/tax-deductible status. It is the acceptance of this special tax status that gives the government some interest in making sure the books at parishes and dioceses are being kept legitimately.”

    Jim, if this were the (legitimate) purpose of the bill, then why does it single out the Roman Catholic Church?

    Sorry, but that alone demonstrates that there is a purpose beyond the obvious.

  63. Cavaliere says:

    Here is a link to the Diocese of Bridgeport website which has a link to the bill and a response from Bishop Lori.

    http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com/Fight_1098.shtml

  64. R&R says:

    This is an attempt to do an end run around what happened in the Episcopal Church. For at least ten years now there has been constant litigation in the Episcopal Church (including six prominent parishes in CT that this senator surely knows about) with parishes trying to escape from the national church’s theological liberalism and the inevitable requirements that will be foisted on every parish down the road. The vast majority of court decisions have held that the Episcopal parish property is held in trust by the local congregation for the national church. I.e., the national church has the power to control property and purse when push comes to shove. This prevents most congregations from leaving.

    Here, you may be seeing an attempt by liberal Catholics to be able to have a committee control the parish property and take it out of the Catholic Church to evade theological orthodoxy. It’s a clever long-term strategy.

    The above legal analyses look right to me–this seems like a definite violation of both the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

    Bishops may need to be vigilent, because things could get ugly if priests are allowed to stray all over the place and parish councils take control of assets. Ugly isn’t even the word for what is going on in the Episcopal Church. Dysfunctional is more like it.

  65. Danby says:

    Karen,
    If you really believe this is about transparency, rather than silencing bishops and stealing the property of the Church, you are very naive. Frankly, the sponsors of the bill despise the Church, and they despise the sort of people who would give to the Church. They hate us and everything we stand for. They do not do this out of concern for us.

  66. Andrew says:

    even if this passes, nothing should change. The Church would simply refuse to obey the new law. We need to stop thinking as if the secular laws matter to us. We are the Church, and we are not subject to these types of laws.

    Personally, here’s what i wouldn’t mind seeing: The law passes, the Church refuses to impliment it, and when the state police come to arrest the bishop or whoever else, there’s a nice healthy group of Swiss Guards waiting to greet them. If only most of the Vatican’s military hadn’t been disbanded…

  67. Cathguy says:

    Official Diocesan Statement. Let us defend the Church.

    Catholics across the State of Connecticut mobilize
    to fight the irrational, unlawful, and bigoted
    Proposed Bill #1098/2009

    Statement of the Diocese of Bridgeport
    on Proposed Legislative Bill # 1098 / 2009

    Diocesan Statement

    This past Thursday, March 5, the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature, which is chaired by Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor of East Haven, introduced a bill that directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.

    This bill violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It forces a radical reorganization of the legal, financial, and administrative structure of our parishes. This is contrary to the Apostolic nature of the Catholic Church because it disconnects parishes from their Pastors and their Bishop. Parishes would be run by boards from which Pastors and the Bishop would be effectively excluded.

    This bill, moreover, is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.

    The State has no right to interfere in the internal affairs and structure of the Catholic Church. This bill is directed only at the Catholic Church but could someday be forced on other denominations. The State has no business controlling religion.

    The Pastors of our Diocese are doing an exemplary job of sound stewardship and financial accountability, in full cooperation with their parishioners.

    For the State Legislature — which has not reversed a $1 billion deficit in this fiscal year — to try to manage the Catholic Church makes no sense. The Catholic Church not only lives within her means but stretches her resources to provide more social, charitable, and educational services than any other private institution in the State. This bill threatens those services at a time when the State is cutting services. The Catholic Church is needed now more than ever.

    We reject this irrational, unlawful, and bigoted bill that jeopardizes the religious liberty of our Church.

    We urge you to call and e-mail Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor:

    Senator Andrew McDonald:
    Capitol phone: (800) 842-1420; Home phone: (203) 348-7439
    E-mail: McDonald@senatedems.ct.gov

    Representative Michael Lawlor:
    Capitol phone: (800) 842-8267; Home phone: (203) 469-9725
    E-mail: MLawlor99@juno.com

    We also ask you to come to Hartford this Wednesday, March 11, to be present at the public hearing. Details on bus transportation will be available on Monday. If you would like to attend, contact your Pastor.

    It is up to us to stop this unbridled abuse of governmental power.

    It is time for us to defend our First Amendment rights.

    It is time for us to defend our Church!

  68. Ave Maria!

    AirMaria will be at the hearing with video coverage on March 11, perhaps even live. Stay tuned for further details at Airmaria.com

  69. David Leech says:

    I don’t see the problem here. The bill says, “A corporation may be organized…” It is not mandatory. Further it says, “…by filing a certificate signed by the bishop or archbishop…” So the whole thing is under control of the bishop.

  70. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    David, the Catholic Bishop Lori is quite concerned.

  71. VC says:

    These Liberal, Democrat snakes are trying so hard to destroy the Holy Catholic Church
    They are buried so deep in the mud of their own sins they really have gone out of control.
    When its convienient for them, their exists such an idea as “separation of Church and state”
    but in this case you don’t hear them singing this tune because it dosen’t fit their agenda. They are SICK, POWER-HUNGRY, GUILT, children who are trying to “get back” at the church because of the sinful lifestyles these politicians and their supporters are living. Remember one thing: IF YOU VOTE DEMOCRAT YOU ARE NOT A REAL CATHOLIC!

  72. Anna B. says:

    I am a Connecticut Catholic and yes we are in an uproar. This Bill was brought forward by MacDonald and Lawlor, who had a great deal to do with bringing Gay marriage to our state.

    To say we are all outraged is putting it mildly and hopefully by Monday forces will have gathered.

    It was so great to see Archbishop Mansell and Bishop Lori speak out. This is what we need. There was also a brief article in the National Catholic Register.

    This country needs to find its voice and our Bishops need to guide us.

    I was stunned after receiving a message Friday evening about this through the Family Institute of CT.

    I know in the Hartford Archdiocese, Archbishop Mansell’s statement was to be placed in all bulletins.

    Dear God, help us.

  73. RC says:

    It’s ironic that the pols are half right: there should be a distinct corporation for each parish.

    Dioceses are supposed to use civil-law structures to protect church property, and each parish is a distinct juridical person.

  74. If you want to see Michael Lawlor (who introduced the bill in CT) in action against Brian Brown of the Ct Family Institute now at National Organization for Marriage see this video It shows how desperate he is in trying to silence the religious objection to Gay Marriage. Is this his motive for introducing this crazy bill?

    Ave Maria!

  75. Mary says:

    “Of course, the Church can free itself of governmental interference if it just gives up its tax-exempt/tax-deductible status. It is the acceptance of this special tax status that gives the government some interest in making sure the books at parishes and dioceses are being kept legitimately.

    Would Catholics give less if their donations were not tax-deductible? Ideally, no; but practically, yes.”
    Comment by Jim — 7 March 2009 @ 11:43 am
    **************
    WOHA here! I’ve heard this argument once too often. No Church should have to give up its tax exempt status to placate the secular bigots of in public office. TAX exempt status is for the fair protection of individual citizens or Church members. That exemption rightly allows the individual tax payors to determine themselves how they wish to contribute to the support of common social structures that serve the common good rather than have the government do it for us. If the Church as a social body freely or under duress relinquishes its exempt status it effectively forces millions of Americans to double their financial obligations or forfeit their religious institutes. That is NO SMALL THING!! I WILL DECIDE HOW MY MONEY IS USED: NOT BIG GOVERNMENT!! There is little more the secular humanists and athiests want than for all religious bodies and individuals to simply give up and surrender. If we do that we are worse than them. Make no pact with evil nor believe you can compromise with Satan. And make no mistake; that is who we are dealing with these days.
    Mary McCurry

  76. E. Christina says:

    We cannot judge their motives and we cannot be 100% sure of the legal outcome. For example, no one thought same sex marriage could pass in CT; we had a rally against it at the CT State Capitol of about 3,000 people just days before. Let’s not underestimate the opponent again. I believe it is the same splinter group of and legislators and organizations.

    Then, our only choice is to prepare to fight hard and thoroughly at all key levels — that is, legal, financial, spiritual, and then over the longer term to fight for religious survival, regulatory freedom of speech by the Church, and definition of human as starting at conception.

    God Bless!

  77. N.W. Clerk says:

    I got an email from Stater Sen. Michael McLachlan of the Judiciary Committee saying he will NOT support the bill. it is the only reply I have gotten.

  78. Anna B. says:

    I am waiting for replies, if they come.

    Christina, one thing, same sex marriage did not “pass” in CT, it was railroaded in and forced upon us.

    I am waiting for Mass this morning to see what is said about this. I know that the Archbishop’s letter will be handed out at all Masses. The news media, so far, and as usual, has been silent here.

  79. Cathguy says:

    David,

    Your comment is perhaps rational, but indicative of a failure to understand what we are up against.

    We heard these sorts of comments before on Civil Unions in this state, remember? “I don’t understand what the problem is here… we are talking about the right of people to visit each other in the hospital and share health care… NOT MARRIAGE!”

    We heard this time, and time again. We were treated to strict constructionist readings of the Civil Unions bill with very aggressive comments about how we were bigots if we opposed it.

    Now look. That Civil Unions bill was the precedent used by the Court to foist gay marriage on our state.

    You cannot read this legislation through the eyes of the “strict constructionist.” There are hardly any of these in the Connecticut judiciary.

    Mark my words, if this bill passes, and it may, then it WILL result in litigation. Voice of the Faithful is very active in our state, and tend to work out of Fairfield University (a Jesuit school). They are already planning legal action in the various parishes if this passes. I know this for a fact. I know some of them and where they stand on the issues.

    They, despite surface level protestations to the contrary, are opposed to Church teaching.

    This bill is so written as to all various interpretations. The new powers given to lay boards are broad and all inclusive “include by are not limited to” and the authority reserved for the clergy are highly circumscribed “pertaining EXCLUSIVELY” to religious tenets and religious practice.

    Given the state of the judiciary up here in the North East of the United States, we CANNOT simply roll over and let legislation that is this potentially harmful to the Church to pass.

    This bill is just the beginning. Pray.

  80. If this gets out of committee, I’ll eat my hat. That said, Ct. Catholics and Catholics everywhere need to fight this, tooth and nail. I half wonder whether McD and Lawlor mightn’t be arrested for criminal misuse of office.

  81. Frank says:

    Did anyone here actually read the bill? I think the church NEEDS lay oversight of their financial affairs. In my parish, we were ripped off by the pastor to the tune of over $500,000.

    That parish in Darien, another at least $500,000 in misappropriated funds. And who knows what else. (And both by gay priests.)

    PLUS, on the latter occasion, that revelation only became public because people had to go to the legal authorities before the church would do anything about it, and in the first occasion, the AD of Bridgeport knew there was a problem for years, and when eh fraud was apparent, they didn’t even tell the parishioners for months.

    Sorry folks, it’s not the middle ages and we have to treated like sheep. We’re being fooled by the priests yet again if we think they are remotely competent to manage their fiscal affairs.

  82. gayle mazzacane says:

    Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

    When our Pastor announced the news last night at Vigil I can’t tell you the outrage we felt. First we thought we heard him wrong and then when we read the letter from Archbishop Mansell. We were flooded with a sense of outrage and sorrow. It is the time for all Catholics to take action. Please email, or call both Lawlor and McDonald. Let’s show up in droves in Hartford on March 11 to fight for our Church!

    Senator McDonald 1-800842-1420 email: McDonald@senatedems.ctgov
    Rep Michael Lawlor 1-800-842-8267 MLawlor99@juno.com

  83. RBrown says:

    There is probably some ant-Catholicism behind the bill, but:

    There is no reason why the diocese should own every parish. Acc to canon law, a parish is a juridical person, yet the current organization in the Church in the US undermines that reality. It never made much sense to me that parishioners should pay for the construction and maintenance of a parish that is owned by the diocese.

    The fact, however, is that the diocese does own these parishes, and the proposed statute would arbitrarily deprive legal ownership of administration of goods.

    It would seem that the statute puts the Church at a fork in the road where both paths go over the cliff. If it registers as a religious organization, it deprives the owner of administration of its own property. If it doesn\’t register as a religion organization, then its tax free status is in jeopardy.

    I for one am glad this is happening because it confirms what JRatzinger has long held: The detente of the Church with secular culture has been a failure.

  84. Aelric says:

    We’re being fooled by the priests yet again if we think they are remotely competent to manage their fiscal affairs.

    Is this in contradistinction to how lay people lately have been managing the fiscal affairs of private corporations and government agencies?

    That some priests and bishops have been guilty of fiscal malfeasance is a given: let not the cure, however, be more deadly than the disease.

  85. Cathguy says:

    Frank,

    I understand your outrage, but please, the Church is still the Church.

    The story about Darien is very true. The priest with the gay lover who embezzled all those funds is disgusting. We all know the pain and suffering in our diocese. In my own parish a priest in 1981 raped a boy in the confessional. He was in ministry until the late 1990s. The bishops (previous… I am not mentioning names because I don’t want to speak ill of both the dead and the retiring; this is NOT about Bishop Lori) were told of the abuse; everyone knew.

    Current canon law protects priests from being disciplined by the Bishop. I am as enraged as you are. Believe me. I have kids. My blood boils.

    BUT…. this is NOT the solution. The Church has a right to free-exercise. The Church has a right to run without interference from the state.

    And… unfortunately… we should all know from hard experience (and the players involved) that this won’t stop at this legislation. We won’t get lay oversight and that will be the end of it. Mark my words, if this passes, we are in for an experience that will closely resemble the episcopal Church in the US. Constant fighting. Yes, even over doctrine. The balkanization of our parishes will get worse than it already is. Suits will fly. We spend so much time fighting each other that we can’t be effective against the world.

    Look. The Church has made big errors. The perception of our Bishop isn’t very good in our diocese because of how the Darien thing came to light. I am enraged. I don’t excuse this sort of garbage. BUT, we also have to defend the Ecclesial structure of the Church from an overreaching state.

  86. Frank says:

    Again, I suggest you read the proposed legislature, not the letter from the Diocese, which is appalling in its lack of accuracy and truthfulness.

    The Bill proposes creating a Board of Directors to oversee the finances for each parish voted on by the same members of that parish who would have a fiduciary responsibility to all of the members of that Parish.

    As regards religious matters, the bill specifically states:

    “(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, restrict or derogate from any power, right, authority, duty or responsibility of the bishop or pastor in matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices.”

    Doesn’t a finance board to oversee the business actually make it easier for the priests to administer their faith? I don’t recall Jesus being quoted as saying that a churches finances could only be administered by the clergy.

    For the archdiocese to say that this bill amounts to government intervention is disingenuous to say the least. It’s actually putting the “business” side of an organization into the hands of business people from the parish; not in the hands of priests who generally have had zero business training.

    Again, my parish lost over $500,000 taken by a priest who used the money for his own leisure activities. I know that a Board such as this would have stopped that from happening and instead redirected those moneys to the school or the foreign missions. And I haven’t heard any plans that the archdiocese intends to reimburse us for their lack of oversight over several years.

    Why is the Catholic Church so worried about having their own congregation more involved on the business side – what more are they hiding at this point?

  87. Dear Frank,

    I agree with you about those scandals – it was terribly painful for us all. In addition to the scandalous behavior of a few, there have been several recent cases of “off book” giving to charities, and other irregular behavior in several places. There does need to be greater transparency, and perhaps lay oversight of the books can or even needs to be a part of that.

    The proponents of Ct. 1098, however, are using the keen sense of the need for some sort of reform to cover – or at least sweeten – a power grab that is unconstitutional on its face and aimed ultimately at breaking the teaching power of the bishop, a power that relies in some measure on control of the purse.

    C

  88. wmeyer says:

    Frank,

    Yo overlook a critical fault in the proposed legislation: that it targets the Roman Catholic Church, and no other. Were the bill designed to affect all religious organizations who qualify as 501 (c) (3) exempt charities, that would be a different matter. It does not. Any legislation, at any level of government, which targets a single denomination–for god or ill–is off-the-rails wrong.

  89. wmeyer says:

    OK, sloppy typing on my part. Should have read: for good or ill. Also, apparently the placement of the character “c” in parentheses provokes the blog to replace with the copyright symbol. Not intended, and I’m not sure how to avoid it….

  90. Frank,

    It is a lot more than just lay oversight. It is full control of the finances by the board where the bishop and pastors do not even have a vote. Even the president of the US has a veto vote. The shift in balance of power this represents is unprecedented even on secular terms, never mind on ecclesiastical terms. And what ever happened to the mantra of ‘separation of church and state’. Seems this goes out the window so long as it’s in favor of destroying authority in Holy Mother Church. The bill is completely insane and is a horrible abuse of power by those who proposed it. And, Yes, I have read it. It makes me embarrassed to even be a citizen of Connecticut. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Ave Maria!

  91. Frank says:

    You’ve raised a very good point about the selectiveness of the proposed bill. However, I believe it’s “targeted” to the Roman Catholic Church because the RCC is the only large, “organized” religion that doesn’t have lay control boards.

    The only other “churches” that have financial abuse similar to the RCC are those churches run by those evangelical ministers, and again for the same reason: no oversight by the congregation. That bill should include these to be fair.

    Governments feel the “need” to get involved when the internal controls of an organization or a institution fail to protect the public. Like the Wall Street mess.

    Is the result always good? That’s arguable. But unfortunately the RCC has failed its congregation so miserably, for so long, and with NO real efforts to improve accountability that the Legislature felt they needed to step into it here in CT to protect the Catholic public.

    We need more accountability – maybe the way for the Church to fight this is to propose their own solution. However, they don’t seem to have the most remotest intention to do so.

  92. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Frank,
    the laity already do have direct control over the finances. The obvious solutuion is what many have advocated for years: donate to the Church according to its faithfulness in preaching the gospel and saving souls. A lot of the garbage of the past 40 years would have stopped about 38-39 years ago. But now another bureaucracy is proposed, as if lay people are superior when it comes to financial temptation, lol.

  93. William Tighe says:

    The United Methodist Church, to name but one Protestant denomination, is as “centralized” in its government and organization as is the Catholic Church.

    Even if Frank is correct in his analysis of the defects of the present system, the Church should nevertheless both defy any such law if it is passed, and excommunicate those Catholics who attempt to implement it against the will of the apostles’ successors, the bishops.

  94. RBrown says:

    Doesn’t a finance board to oversee the business actually make it easier for the priests to administer their faith? I don’t recall Jesus being quoted as saying that a churches finances could only be
    Comment by Frank

    What if the bishop and pastor wants to restore the Communion rail and the sanctuary (getting rid of the picnic table) and the finance council is opposed and won’t allocate the funds?

  95. Ray says:

    Don’t be so certain this only applies to Roman Catholics:

    A corporation may be organized in connection with any Roman Catholic Church or congregation in this state,

    It would be easy to read it as Roman Catholic Church OR (any) congregation.

  96. Barbara Rickman says:

    To Little Gal,

    PRAY FOR US IN CT!! Just gay marriage failed in CA but succeeded here in CT, we are again on the front lines. If this law passes the implications for Holy Mother Church in the US is dire indeed!

    B. Rickman
    St. Mary’s Norwalk parishoner

  97. Ray says:

    I don’t recall Jesus being quoted as saying that a churches finances could only be

    Judas handled the funds. Jesus did correct Judas about spending at least once.

  98. Santo says:

    As a member of the Darien parish that suffered the embezzelment at the hands of a gay priest, I can tell you that we, the congregation, have recovered, cleaned our own house, have established transparency and are doing well. The priest has been brought to justice and some funds are being recovered. This has all occurred without the legislative interference (or even help) of the State (the Feds prosecuted the priest).

    This bill is unnecessary and serves no purpose. It is a veiled attempt by several legislators to try and use the laity to undermine the positions of the Church on many social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

    Outrage at a parish\’s financial scandal is understandable; the remedy is to get involved in the parish and work towards the transparency or reforms you seek. Rally the congregation; the church will listen. The congregation in Darien rallied and has gotten results. Of course, getting involved requires a personal commitment or sacrifice. All too often people complain but are not willing to do anything about the problem. Many are all too willing to take the easy way and leave it to the government deal with the local problem.

    This bill is antithetical not only to the First Amendment, but to the founding of this Nation. Starting with the Mayflower Compact, most of the New England colonies were founded to escape the British Government’s interference with religion. The fact that it singles out the Roman Catholic Church shows that it is nothing more than an attempt by government to control our religion.

  99. Joe says:

    I am glad to hear about the ultimate results in Darien, Santo. I too am from CT, further north in Southbury. We were very upset about this recent development (Bill 1098) and we are going to send some folks on Wed. to Hartford to object. There are steps being taken in our Archdiocese to prevent such abuses, like the ones in Darien, that are already underway (new financial reporting procedures to the Archdiocese…). There is no need for legislation, like you said. I sincerely hope that Rep. Lawlor and Sen. McDonald are challenged at election time for this nasty assault upon our church. – Joe R.

  100. Cathguy says:

    I must point out that there already is lay oversight of the finances in the Diocese of Bridgeport. We have finance boards, we participate in audits etc. etc.

    The real issue here is that the bill will remove the control of the parish from the clergy. That is the core of this bill.

    And it is IMPERATIVE to keep in mind who is behind this thing: both of these men have histories of anti-Catholic agitation in the state house and senate.

    Furthermore, VOTF is responsible for really kicking around the idea.

    I know VOTF members in this state. They aren’t interested in proclaiming the Church’s traditional teachings… I’ll tell you that right now.

    I really believe that if the bill were to become law, these lay boards would hold all the power. The balkanization we have already seen in the state (gay friendly parishes etc. etc.) will simply get worse.

    To that poster reveling in this whole crisis who said something along the lines of “this just goes to show that the modern Church’s acceptance of the secular state has failed” I say this: This viewpoint is dangerous and misguided. Do you have kids?

    If it weren’t for the secular authorities abuse victims would have had no protections whatsoever. If we laity didn’t have the ability to sue to hold the diocese accountable, believe me, the abuse would be still be ongoing. The secular state did some good here. There are no easy answers.

    It should just be obvious that we are going to have to fight this bill.

  101. RBrown says:

    Don’t be so certain this only applies to Roman Catholics:

    A corporation may be organized in connection with any Roman Catholic Church or congregation in this state,

    It would be easy to read it as Roman Catholic Church OR (any) congregation.
    Comment by Ray

    I think most Protestant parishes are independent anyway. They hire and fire their clergy, etc.

    I do know that my former Episcopalian parish is independent and already would in well with the Conn bill.

  102. Aine says:

    Whoever holds the purse strings, holds the power. It’s not about the money but the power it generates. What do they want to generate?

  103. Jim Dorchak says:

    It strikes me Bishop Lori has brought some of this on himself. I listened to Bishop Lori’s statements and realized immediately that he is wholly weak.

    He has been weak on the handeling of Our Church in his diocese. This has lead the Facists and Marxists in CT (who have so long driven the government nipple concept in CT) to attack the Church at a weak link.

    I have seen little that holds tradition in CT. The attitude of the Catholics in Ct has long been that as long as they do not affect me then let the gays and other anti Christian arms of the secular society have at it.

    Lots of “Former Catholics” in Ct. Lots of “Pro Choice catholics” in Ct. Where have the excomunications been for these who have been claiming to be Catholic?

    You would not see Bishop Joseph F. Martino, Achb Chaput being attacked like this since they are not WEAK.

    I will pray for you all in CT.

    Jim Dorchak

  104. little gal says:

    “PRAY FOR US IN CT!! Just as gay marriage failed in CA but succeeded here in CT, we are again on the front lines. If this law passes the implications for Holy Mother Church in the US is dire indeed.”

    Barbara:

    Prayer is good. Prayer and Tactics are better. This truly is a war and I hope that the Catholic groups in CT who are fighting this have good tacticians assisting them because rightious fury will not win the day. As Machiavelli said: “To know in war how to recognize an opportunity and seize it is better than anything else.”

  105. Danby says:

    I might be able to accept you argument, if the exclusivity matter were reversed. If only each parish had an independent financial committee, which had charge under law to account for the money and to audit the finances, leaving all other matters to the bishop and the pastor. OH WAIT! THEY ALREADY DO! Under cannon law there is a mandatory financial committee in each parish, which is charged with keeping the books and auditing the money.

    When you can tell me how the new structure to be set up by the state would do it’s job better than the existing structure, let me know.

  106. Fr. Angel says:

    Frank:

    Besides the fact that your comments have a strong anti-clerical tone, as if we the priests have caused 100% of the Church’s problems, and as if we exist just to fool the laity with lies and cunning, you are simply not aware of the Church today when you state:

    “with NO real efforts to improve accountability that the Legislature felt they needed to step into it here in CT to protect the Catholic public.”

    It is precisely because of the problems in Connecticut that bishops and financial boards across the country have taken steps to further accountability: a) order parishes to undergo regular audits with lay auditors b) order parish money sealed in bank bags after collection and opened and counted by lay committees c) order finance councils to review checkbooks of the parish and to forbid any transactions in cash d) order finance reports to be printed in the bulletin e) allow for parish finance councils to report discrepancies directly to the district attorney, and other changes coming down the pike.

    If you think that lay boards at the diocesan level, and bishops themselves, are not breathing down our necks (the clergy), you are very ill-informed. If I go to Wal-Mart and buy toilet paper, that will wind up in the parish bulletin monthly report, so please don’t tell me that my people are out of the loop.

  107. Fr. Angel says:

    We can talk all day till the cows come home about who is trying to fool here, but these words are supposed to give us all some comfort:

    “(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, restrict or derogate from any power, right, authority, duty or responsibility of the bishop or pastor in matters pertaining exclusively to religious tenets and practices.”

    Frank thinks that all these savvy businessmen are going to step forward and run the parish finances. Oh, and they will always be honest and never allow funny business to go on. The rule of the evil clergy will at last be vanquished.

    That’s news to me, and I have a lot of friends who are Protestant ministers and deal with lay finance boards. Do you know who sits on these boards in reality?

    In many Protestant churches, according to my minister friends, people get on church boards because they have money (whoever has the gold makes the rules) or because they are politically cunning to run an efficient election. How long do they get to sit on the board and tell the minister and everyone else what to do? In some churches, people serve on these boards for years without term limits.

    What if the pro-aborts in the parish don’t like Father’s pro-life homilies? That means no money or practical support for anything pro-life (sorry K of C, you won’t be using the parish Hall to organize that Walk for Life).

    Pertaining “exclusively to religious tenets.” Ain’t that special? In other words, Father will get to talk. Yes, let’s humor him. His words don’t mean anything, however, because his parishioners decide on any matter that requires money and use of the physical buildings.

    The lay board can cancel a Mass that reaches out to an ethnic part of the parish that we would like to chase off (maybe we don’t like those Asians who have moved into the parish?). The lay board can remove catechism from the CCD center because it is costing too much (but really it’s because Father’s thinking is too pre-Vatican II). The lay board controls all aspects of liturgy and music, which depends on the checkbook of the parish. In fact, even if a lay board cannot “fire” the priest technically, it would still have the power to simply stop paying him or giving him room and board.

    But hey, at least Father can still talk about religious tenets and practices, because that is his First Amendment right, graciously conceded by the apostles of the Connecticut legislature, who are divinely inspired to know the proper way to run the Catholic church.

  108. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Fr. Angel, I agree 100% with your analysis. If the CT legislature still allows the clergy all power in matters strictly religious, I wonder what would happen if the rich pro-homo pro-abort on the parish board found himself excommunicated, and then maybe the rest of the board?
    Another solution from the socialists worse than the disease.

  109. Gerry Chase says:

    To all concerned Cathlic’s :

    CT. Bill 1098/2009 is against the US consitution and violates all we stand for as christians and US cititzens.

    This is just the start of the most evil process to have the gov’t disband our values and way of life by
    misguided gov’t leaders that think they know what is best for our well being, but in fact will destroy it.

    This bill must not pass.

    Gerry

  110. Al says:

    I am angered by this. I am enraged by this. I am tired of liberals, I am tired of democrats, I am tired of weak-willed laity, and I am tired of usurpers pretending to be faithful laity and clergy of the Catholic Church. These people give cover to their pals in politics and the people trying to destroy the church from within. My friends these people are so obsessed with their sins they will stop at nothing to silence those who call their behaviors sins. It is finally time for Catholic leaders to take very public, very visible action against these kinds of attacks….not violence, (Make no mistake thought if I EVER find myself in a situation where I am physically attacked for my views…I WILL defend myself and I WILL defend the only absolute good in this world..The Catholic Church) but rather visible forcefull rhetorical, media-savvy, and finally yes angry voiceful defense. Why can’t we defend ourselves publicly and loudly and angrily? This is crazy! Is it to much to ask that we demand decisive and forceful leadership within the Catholic American Church to stand up and defend the Church? Is this some kind of perceived sin of pride that we dare ask our Shepherds to do so? How many carefully construed P.C-based statements on such overt attacks on the Catholic Church and Christians in general must our leadership endure before somebody wakes up and realizes the large swaths of state, federal and international leadership are at war with the church? Why is it taking so long for public figures in our leadership to make this simple yet unbelievably ob vious remark? Like a wimp at noon recess getting beaten by the bullies we take our licks and stare at the ground waiting for the recess bell to save us. This happened to me when I was a kid and I remember the day my father counciled me to defend myself and that when I do it…do NOT let up until someone breaks it up. I did this and was NEVER bullied again.

    I for one, am not going to be labeled a “Bigot” by the state, by the media or homosexual groups Feminist Abortionists and even family members for my beliefs. I am not going to allow others to call me dumb or emotionalistic because I believe in God. I am not going to shut my mouth nicely and be “Private” about my very well reasoned beliefs. I am not going to get kicked from the public square because I am Catholic. Baaaaa Baaaaaaaahhhh Baaahhhh the angry sheep am I! How much baaaing do we need to do here? We beg for leadership! Not REACTIVE leadership…PROACTIVE Leadership. Why aren’t we pursuing laws that strengthen the freedom of religion in this country? We don’t we pursue laws that strengthen freedom of conscious? Why don’t we enshrine religious identity and freedom of conscious into the civil rights laws? Where is our LEADERSHIP! Where IS IT!? Where do you want me leadership? What should I do next? Give me orders! You want me to pray? Fine I will…but that is not all God asks us to do. If that was the case I would open up the Bible and it would consist of 4 pages, Page 1. Creation Account, Page 2 “The Ten Commandments, Page 3. Our Lord saves us from sin. Page 3. Pray The End. Thank You God that the Bible consists of these life-affirming things but not only these things..in every instance prayer is combined with the very visible actions of the prophets, apostles and our Lord. Please let us all witness that. Next time somebody tells you the correct response is to go into your closet and pray about this and than thats it, nothing else…nod your heads in obediance and thankfullness for the good advice but also remind the person with the advice that God wills us also to action..was this not the case of Moses, Elijah, Samson, David, Amos, Esther, Noah, Paul, Peter, and most certainly our Lord?

    I will leave with you with this inspiring but embarrasing anecdote in a discussion on on Sunday Night Live with host Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and guest Dr. Peter Kreeft. Dr. Kreeft recalls a discussion about Catholic imagery with his students in which the Catholic students found a crucifix in the classroom Offensive….and who came to our Lord’s defense? A Jew and a Muslim Student…WHAT IS WRONG WITH US AS CATHOLICS!, SHAME!..read on:

    Peter Kreeft on Catholic higher education

    My favorite podcast from the past week is last Sunday’s episode of Sunday Night Live with host Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and guest Dr. Peter Kreeft, discussing the state of Catholic higher education in the United States. The whole 56 minute program is worth a listen. Here’s one great sequence:

    Benedict Groeschel: You and I were talking and you told me an anecdote about when they took the crucifixes down from the classroom walls at Boston College. I think this anecdote is a little bit long, but I think our audience would be very interested to hear it.

    Peter Kreeft: Well, I was teaching comparative religions, and during the long break, there was a Jewish student and a Muslim student in the front row. The Jewish student noticed a faint cross painted on the wall behind me, so he asked me, “Is that supposed to be a cross?”

    I started to explain that that’s where the crucifix used to be, and another student, a Catholic, said “Oh, we took the crucifixes down last year.”

    “Why did you do take them down?”

    “Oh, well, we didn’t want to offend people.”

    “When did you take them down?”

    “Well, let’s see. 1979.”

    “Aha,” said the Jewish student. “It was the Bundy money.”

    No one understood that, so he explained that President Carter’s secretary of state, McGeorge Bundy, had brokered a deal by which federal money could go to private schools if and only if those schools were not sectarian, divisive, discriminatory… something like that. And – by coincidence – all 21 Jesuit colleges took down their crucifixes from their classrooms in the year following that decision. So when he explained that to the students, the students were rather scandalized, and one said, “Oh, no, we wouldn’t do that for money.”

    And he said, “Of course you wouldn’t, but I hope you got more than thirty pieces of silver this time.” Rather wicked… some of them were so biblically illiterate that he had to explain to them that Judas Iscariot was the first Catholic bishop to accept a government grant.

    But then the student said, “No, we did that to be ecumenical.”

    And then the Muslim chimed in.

    “What is ecumenical?”

    So the student said, “Oh, ecumenical means we think we’re all equal, and we didn’t want to discriminate against others, and offend outsiders.”

    And the Muslim said, “You mean people like me, and my friend the Jew?”

    “Well, yes.”

    “Well, I am highly insulted.”

    “Why?”

    “Well, you’re treating me like a bigot.”

    “No, we hate bigotry.”

    “Let me explain. Suppose you came to my country. You enrolled in a Muslim university. Now we don’t have pictures or images; we think that’s idolatry, but when you are in a Muslim university, you know you are in a Muslim university. Who would object to a Muslim symbol in a Muslim university, except a bigot? Now you expect me to be offended by a Catholic symbol – the crucifix – in a Catholic university, so you are treating me like a bigot.”

    Everyone was thinking.

    He didn’t stop. He said to the students, “How many of you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?”

    And most of them raised their hand.

    He said, “Well, we Muslims don’t believe that; the Koran says that’s blasphemy, that’s ridiculous, but we have a great devotion to Jesus. We hardly ever mention his name without saying, ‘Blessed be he’ or ‘Blessed be his name’ and we think he’s one of the greatest men who ever lived, and he is a great prophet, and we love him and his mother Mary. And if we had pictures of him, we would never take them down, not for any money in the world. In fact,” he said, and he was now waxing eloquent, “what if some soldiers came into our classroom and said, ‘We demand that you take down this offensive picture of the prophet Jesus’? Every good Muslim would go in front of that picture and say, ‘You will take down this picture of our beloved prophet Jesus over our dead bodies. We would be glad to be martyrs for him.’ So I think we are better Christians than you are.”

    You could hear a pin drop.

  111. Frank says:

    Father “Angel”, J

    Who else has caused the RCC’s main problems today, if NOT the priests? It’s your show, the rest of us just have to sit there and watch, regardless of some token lay boards.

    I went to Catholic school for 16 years, including 4 at Fairfield Prep – and by the way, I have to say I always found the Jesuit’s the most honest priests out there.

    And I think I was the last generation where corporal punishment by priests, lay teachers and nuns was the norm. I’m not complaining – most of it was deserved – however, I do think my 16 years has given me more than an adequate right to make my comments.

    A few years ago, I was at Fr. Moynihan’s 25th anniversary mass and party – it was he who sadly, and very publicly, left in disgrace after possibly taking as much as $500,000 from St. Michael’s in Greenwich and living with his gay lover in NYC, etc. etc.

    However, I remember his homily well – he said it saddened him how much of a “beating” priests have taken in recent years because when he was growing up in Brooklyn, he admired and loved so many of the local priests that that was why he believed he was called to that vocation. He said we as Catholics have forgotten how wonderful some priests were and are, and that we need to recognize and appreciate them more.

    I was very touched by his statement – because I would have had to say the same thing. Some of the priests I encountered growing up in a very religious Irish Catholic family in the 60’s and 70’s were some of the most wonderful guys I ever met, and especially some of the Jesuits at Prep, while they could be very tough, discouraged us from “blind faith” (no offense), and rather encouraged us always to challenge our faith because that could only make our faith stronger.

    How ironic it was that Fr. Moynihan would say that – obviously that was during the same time he was embezzling funds. And I held out hope – or I guess it was faith – even until the very end where the facts of his actions just were so overwhelming to deny.

    It especially saddened my wife and I as he married us many years before when he was still an associate Pastor in Stamford; and I will always remember his homily of hope and forgiveness the Sunday after 9/11 – St. Michael’s lost 11 parishioners that day – and seeing him standing outside after church to comfort his parishioners with tears streaming down his face from the obvious strain of a week of trying to comfort what was near beyond ones ability to bear.

    Other priests who I admired – one of my favorite teachers at Prep, and one of the few non-Jesuits there, and who gave a beautiful homily at my mother’s funeral; he had to resign in disgrace several years ago. Another priest, a pastor at my church growing up and who always was the nicest man and my best friend G at that time and I would visit him in the sacristy before school started – accused posthumously of abuse.

    (How sad it was that when I ran into G a few years back after not seeing him for over 20 years, we had to talk about that and embarrassingly ask each other if something “weird” ever happened privately with either of us – thankfully we both escaped if it did in fact happen.)

    My personal list of priests I put great faith and trust in, only to have it go wasted can go on and on. However, I still don’t hold the vast majority of good priests to blame for their sins.

    What I DO hold them to blame for is that they didn’t go after their miscreant colleagues sooner, and more heatedly. And I also resent their resistance to cleaning house long past any reasonable justification for not doing so.

    I’ve leaned that men in the Priesthood tend to fall into the same type of characters as men in any walk of life. Some are great, caring selfless men and true leaders (and hopefully at a way higher percentage in the priesthood, than in say, business) while others are some of the nastiest and most evil SOB’s you’d ever want to know. The rest, of course, fall in the range between these two extremes.

    (There are also some who are so uniquely to the clergy, and annoyingly sanctimonious like former Cardinal Egan – who made my skin crawl every time I met him or saw him on TV – friend of yours, Father Angel? I do trust that that generation is dying off, and I am sure most good priests find this sort of clergy as annoying as I do…)

    Bottom line, again my experience in business or in life, is that those people who seem most insistent on having control, generally shouldn’t have it.

    Conversely, the ones who are the best leaders and are accordingly the best at controlling things, know that the best way for them to stay in control is just to do their job right – the control and the power will come to or stay with them as long as they continue to deserve it.

    These men in Hartford may not have the most noblest reasons for bringing this law to committee, rarely does any politician operate under such nobility, but the substance of their issue – that the Catholic clergy has long been failing the Catholic faithful – is unfortunately, and sadly, very accurate.

  112. boredoftheworld says:

    Frank makes his case in my opinion because many of the bishops in the US handed him the ammunition then painted big targets on their chests and said “fire”. I disagree strongly with the proposed solution though.

    Fr. Angel is equally correct that this will result in doctrinal control resting in the hands of lay boards in the same way it works in largely independent protestant congregations. When the trustees don’t like the content of the sermons the preacher gets to find a new job. We also would enjoy yet another layer of bureaucracy, that’s worked out so well for us lately hasn’t it?

  113. Joan says:

    Introduced in Committee, supported by VOTF. Intent obvious: force bishop and priest out of their authoritative (and spiritual) roles, replaced by “lay board” of 7-13 people. And who will they be? A bunch of people who want the TLM? NO, “progressives” – a fast way to turn “Catholic” parishes into congregationalist meeting halls that bless same-sex unions, endorse abortion, have global warming conferences, etc.

    This is completely unconstitutional, but so what? That does not stop our courts now!

  114. cathguy says:

    Frank,

    We have had a hard time here in Connecticut, but that is no excuse for extreme anti-clericalism. I too am enraged. None of my priest friends that I truly admire have betrayed the Church, and I hope and pray in doesn’t happen.

    That said, even if it were to happen, I hope and pray I wouldn’t seek to transform the Catholic Church into a protestant denomination. This legislation would be HORRIBLE for the Church.

    Can you imagine running like the Episcopalians, constantly suing each other etc.? Do you see how the anti-gay marriage “priests” of the Episcopal Church have been treated in this state?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. This legislation is wrong.

  115. Patrick Rothwell says:

    Santo,

    That was a very well-written and cogent comment. As someone that was a victim of Father Fay’s malfeasance, have you considered contacting the lawyers for the Bridgeport Diocese or the K of C to see if you can testify before the committee? Your take on this issue is something that really needs to be considered by the legislature. Or, if their railroaders have no interest in consideration, at least for the record. Obviously, you would have to “go public” and would have to rush around the next few days, and you may not want to do that for legitimate reasons. Still, I hope you would take my suggestion to heart. If you want to do this, call someone first thing Monday morning! By the way, I have no connection with Connecticut… this is just a suggestion from someone who is quite dismayed by this bill from hundreds of miles away.

  116. LeonG says:

    When Pope John XXIII symbolically opened the windows to the world at The Vatican to let in some fresh air we are able 50 years later to objectively assess the net consequences of The Church orienting itself towards the secular realm. One act after another since that day has enabled the non-Catholic exterior to come inside The Church, make itself at home and contaminate it with its alien and apparently new philosophies. Collegiality and a reorganisation of the Holy See have diluted papal authority; ecumenical meanderings and inter-religious dialogues of the deaf have had a reductionist effect on the uniqueness of Roman Catholicism and, among other factors, secular governments aided and abetted by fractious and rebellious bishops and clergy have encroached successfully on what was once legitimate ecclesiastical authority. In fact, the liturgy has become a type of stadium where these secularising forces have played themselves out week after week for the last 50 years also: women’s rights, gay rights, lay rights and so on.

    Not one area of church life has remained untouched by post-conciliar liberalism and its accommodation with the pagan world. Now it is time to pay the price for this. The secular powers are finally well-established within The Church’s internal structures through the un-Catholic behaviours of many of its episcopal and clerical representatives with their laicised diocesan and parish councils. The members of these bodies are often imbued with the new philosophies & not so hidden agendas of the post-conciliar period. These seek to recreate The Church in their own dechristianised image and likeness. The bishops only have themselves to blame for what now transpires in this “new” era of liberated consciences; liberalised perspectives on salvific faiths and a quasi-democratic ecclesiastical governance which is creating little despots out of church leaders about whom St Paul once quite rightly forewarned us.

  117. Fr. Angel says:

    Frank:

    Why did you put my name in italics? That is my real name, not fodder for your idea of a pun. And your quote about disliking Cardinal Egan and then adding “friend of yours, Father Angel?” was uncalled for.

    I am sorry that you have been betrayed by priests. Get in line behind the rest of us (yes, we priests also have stories to tell of our colleagues).

    But if you were wanting to present the stellar argument of why the Catholic Church cannot, must never, and will never be handed over to lay control like a Protestant church, well, you could not have done any better than the attitudes displayed in your post.

    What scares devout Catholics more than inept priests are the sight of those lay people waiting in the lurches for the bolshevik style revolution that will wrest the Church from priests and give it to “empowered laity.”

  118. cathguy says:

    LeonG

    I can’t agree with your post.

    Prior to Vatican II, when this garbage with the sex abuse was going on as well, what recourse did people have? If, God forbid, a priest embezzled or abused a child, what wold occur? The answer is nothing.

    The secular authorities have done some good. I am not the only traditionalist Catholic to say this. This has been the editorial position of the New Oxford Review for instance

    I really feel that these traditionalist judgements on the Church, using the current crisis in Connecticut to beat up on the Church instead of to defend it, are both offensive and poorly reasoned.

  119. wmeyer says:

    Fr. Angel, what scares me most is that the bishops are so weak in their own positions that some of them might welcome the overthrow by the empowered laity.

    The very catechists who advised me to read the Vatican II documents cannot, I am sure have read and understood them, else they wold see, as I have, that the rotated altar, the use of English, the dreadful songs that pass today for hymns, none of those come from the “spirit of the Council.”

    I know that priests are sinners like the rest of us. I know many of you have stories to tell — and that you wish you did not.

    I’m struggling in a diocese that has consigned the traditional forms to a single parish, and makes it pretty clear it’s a quarantine zone. My own parish seems determined to edge ever closer to the clown Masses I have read of, and it breaks my heart.

  120. ex-priest says:

    I hope it passes. It is about time that the civil government started to put some controls on the excesses of churches in this country. Personally, I hope that this is just a beginning. I would like to see churches lose their tax exemptions as well. And the Catholic Church is one of the worst offenders.

  121. Cathguy says:

    ex-priest says “I hope it passes.”

    At what cost? I assume at least you are an American? I can understand your desire to hurt the Church, but your country as well? Have you abandoned everything? Do you hate the Constitution now as well?

    Check out this (I am not Philip Lacovara… I am posting what he posted publicly on the diocesan website). It is clear that despite the amateur legalize we have been hearing from less well educated attorneys who support this bill, we have some heavy hitting attorneys who are speaking out about the proposed bill’s contradiction of the Constitution of the United States.

    Letter from Philip A. Lacovara,
    Senior Counsel, Mayer Brown LLP,
    to members of the Judiciary Committee

    Attorney Lacovara, a member of the Diocese of Bridgeport, has more than
    40 years’ experience as a constitutional law teacher and practitioner.

    Sunday, March 8, 2009

    Dear Member of the Judiciary Committee:

    When you entered the Legislature, I assume that you took an oath consistent with the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution recognizing that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land and that all State officials are bound to respect it.

    You now have before your Committee a bill that tests your fidelity to your constitutional duty. The bill is No. 1098, which candidly announces that its purpose is to “revise the corporate governance provisions [of the Connecticut Statutes] applicable to the Roman Catholic Church.”

    In more than forty years as a constitutional law teacher and practitioner, I cannot recall a single piece of proposed legislation at any level of government that more patently runs afoul of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment that does this bill.

    I write to you as a Connecticut taxpayer, as a Catholic, and as a constitutional lawyer. This last capacity is most relevant for present purposes.

    I have taught constitutional law at Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. I also have served as Deputy Solicitor General of the United States and as Counsel to the Watergate Special Prosecutor. I have argued 18 cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, most involving constitutional issues.

    I find it utterly astonishing that Bill 1098 could be taken seriously enough to warrant a hearing before your Committee. I would find it difficult to use it as a “hypothetical” in one of my constitutional law classes, because even first year law students would have so little difficulty seeing why the bill goes well beyond the powers that the Constitution allows the States to exercise in dealing with organized churches.

    Ever since we passed beyond the Colonial period during which several Colonies in New England barred Catholics and Catholic priests from practicing their faith as they chose to practice it, all persons — and churches — in this country have been protected by the fundamental guarantee of religious autonomy enshrined in the First Amendment.

    One of the key doctrines embodied in this protection of religious liberty is that the State has no legitimate power to intrude into the internal affairs of a hierarchical church. That is, the guarantee of religious liberty applies not only to the private beliefs of individuals, it also protects the autonomy of organized churches as
    such. That principle has been established for two centuries. The so-called “internal affairs” doctrine means that the leaders of a hierarchical church have the final and absolute authority to decide how the church will be organized and governed, and no State may override that autonomy by purporting to require that the church be reorganized in some other way simply because a public official may think that a different organization is “better” for the members of the congregation.

    The great exponent of First Amendment religious liberty, Justice William Brennan, explained in one of the leading examples of the Supreme Court’s enforcement of religious autonomy against State intrusion that a hierarchical church has exclusive authority to decide whether to reorganize its diocesan corporate structure and that the First Amendment deprives the State of any role in substituting its own views:

    “It suffices to note that the reorganization of the Diocese involves a matter of internal church government, an issue at the core of ecclesiastical affairs; Arts. 57 and 64 of the Mother Church constitution commit such questions of church polity to the final province of the Holy Assembly. Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 344
    U.S. 94, 116 (1952), stated that religious freedom encompasses the ‘power [of religious bodies] to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine’.”

    The quotation is from Justice Brennan’s opinion for the Court in SERBIAN
    ORTHODOX DIOCESE v. MILIVOJEVICH, 426 U.S. 696, 721-22 (1976).

    Legislative Bill 1068 is explicitly designed to have the State of Connecticut substitute its view about desirable structure of the governance of the Catholic Church. AS the Supreme Court has warned over and over, however, a State Legislature may not usurp the power of the Catholic Church to decide this matter for itself “free from state interference.” There is no doubt that, if the Legislature were to enact this bill, the federal courts would strike it down as unconstitutional on its face. I urge you not to provoke such a constitutional confrontation.

    It has been said that this bill merely revises the existing statute providing for the incorporation of Catholic parishes and that the Legislature must have residual constitutional power to change those provisions as it thinks fit. This is a fatuous argument. When a State has the competence to address a matter, it must do in accord with the Constitution. For example, the fact that the State may enact
    legislation consistent with the Constitution that outlaws racial segregation hardly implies that the Legislature must equally have power to enact legislation commanding racial segregation.

    This distinction is obvious and applies here equally. That, of course, is precisely the logical flaw that dooms the argument put forth by proponents of this bill.

    The existing statute defers to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church on the respective roles of the Bishop of the Diocese and his other canonical subordinates, including parish pastors. It places them in supervisory authority over all of the affairs of the parish communities, including “administrative” affairs. Within the meaning of Supreme Court cases guaranteeing the autonomy of religious superiors in a hierarchical church such as the Catholic Church over matters of internal governance, the existing statute respects the Church’s autonomy.

    By contrast, the bill before your committee would purport to overrule the Church’s absolute autonomy over its form of internal governance and to substitute a form of government that flies in the face of 2000 years of Catholic Church law and practice. The United States Constitution forbids that assertion of State power.

    Finally, it is said that some members of a Catholic parish in which a priest engaged in defalcation have suggested this legislation. It is easy to find clusters of persons who have pet “reforms” on a wide variety of issues. I suggest that the responsibility of a member of the State Legislature is to put clear and fundamental constitutional values ahead of political expediency.

    In light of what I understand have been the comprehensive efforts of the Church leadership to assure financial responsibility within the Church, this bill seems to be a “solution” in search of a problem. In any event, it is a “solution” that our constitutional system does not allow the State to impose.

    I appreciate your consideration of these views.

    Philip Allen Lacovara

  122. Cathguy says:

    wmeyer,

    I will say what I have said to others. The Catholic Church in Connecticut is in a serious fight, and you simply bash Her and our Bishops, kicking Her while she is down, all so you can promote your ideological take on the events of the past 40 some odd years. This is offensive, not to mention misguided and poorly reasoned.

    Right now, you are either with us or against us. Which is it?

  123. Fr. Angel says:

    Cathguy:

    I don’t believe that Wmeyer meant to bash the Bishops and the Church, but rather Wmeyer seems to be pointing out that because of weak leadership in the matter of Catholic orthodoxy, the Catholic faithful are not in the best position to fight this attack.

    Evangelized and catechized Catholics would know *and* believe that Jesus mandated a hierarchical church that cannot allow for administrative power to be taken away from bishops and priests. They would know instinctively that the proposed Connecticut law seeks to destroy an essential aspect of how Christ established the exercise of authority and power in His Church. Catholic governance would be turned into Protestant governance while still having the title and appearance of being Catholic.

    If this is what Wmeyer is worried about, that unknowing Catholics might buy into this poppycock passing for legal improvement, then I agree that this is scary. This is what the Protestant Reformers sought in Europe, and this is what the Ku Klux Klan wanted for the Catholic church here in the U.S. But now, who needs the Klan when you have enraged and bitter Catholic laity who stopped being Catholic a long time ago but are under the illusion that they are still Catholic.

    Even scarier is this “entitlement spirituality” of AmChurch, where a Catholic quotes how long he has been a Catholic, what fancy Catholic schools he went to, and how many priests he has known which now entitles him to turn against the Church and still think he is a loyal Catholic. This is new to me, that you get to a certain point in life and you can think Protestant (KKK Protestant, really hateful against the church and clergy), but still entitled to call yourself Catholic because you know the Church like the back of your hand.

    Obviously, ex priests are also excellent candidates for this entitlement spirituality. “I was a priest, so that entitles me to hate the Church now.”

    Give me, any day, Catholics who never saw the inside of a prep school run by Order A, B, or C but who learned the Faith from catechisms and their poor parents; give me Catholics who never even went to Mass until they went to Cursillo or RCIA; give me Catholics who go to Mass and joyfully live for Christ, in spite of no contact with Catholic schools and having no priest or nun friends.

    I really could care less if you have gone to Mass since 1920 and the Pope’s cousin comes over your house for breakfast. The Church doesn’t need Catholics who throw around that name because their pedigree entitles them to it. The Church needs people who embrace the Faith because it is the true Faith and gets souls to heaven. If you need to go out in public and show off the scars which the Church inflicted on you, well, Jesus said it perfectly, “they are already repaid.”

  124. Deena says:

    Couldn’t the parishes turn their property over to the Vatican, an independent state, and be established as Embassies? I realize the parishes would then loose their tax exempt status, but why would that be such a bad thing? Sometimes a priest may state that they cannot be direct and must be careful when addressing their congregration to avoid lossing this exemption. It always makes me wonder why the tax exempt status is of greater importance than clarity and truth. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they did turn everything over to the Vatican and loose there tax exempt status. Something to pconsider.

  125. Steve K. says:

    I’m not sure you’re seeing the speck in Fr. Angel’s eye very clearly Frank, perhaps on account of the log in your eye?

    Do you seriously believe the laity have *nothing* to do with the problems in the Church today? My last parish, which I left for the local FSSP parish, was just about completely in the hands of lay people, who set the tone even on catechesis. I can tell you it was very far from actual catechesis. It was difficult many times to distinguish it from a Protestant church, which was really the point. You seem to think that’s what the Catholic Church should become, a congregationalist sect, on account of your “life experience.”

    Do you believe the Catholic faith because it is true? Or do you think your life experience teaches you something better about the Church? Because it sounds like the former is the case, and if it is, and you can’t bring yourself to repent, you should go somewhere else. Better to be cold than lukewarm.

  126. Steve K. says:

    correction to the above “it sounds like the latter is the case”

    Anti-spam word: finish coffee, than post ;)

  127. Joe says:

    Frank and ex-priest,

    How bout this – if you don’t like the way the Catholic Church is being run, nobody’s forcing you to stay here, so why not leave and go to a church that fits your views. I’m not saying that we’re throwing you out, but the way the Church has been run seems to be contrary to your beliefs – so why keep banging your head into a wall and go to some other place that share your views.

    As far as the law goes, even if it has the “best of intentions,” the state has NO business messing with ours. If we think there’s something inherintly evil about our church, we will take action and deal with it. That’s how we got rid of the child abusing priests and lay people (YES lay people were involved in the abuses) – at least in my home parish, EVERYONE involved in service that would remotely come in contact with kids are REQUIRED to take an abuse prevention class (something our Diocese implimented without the meddling of the state). Bottom line – it’s a slippery slope that is being formed by just introducing the legislature, and IF it passes (God (or god if you’re a liberal) help us), it just opens the door for future meddlings. Just think, Frank or ex-priest, the next thing the legislature might want to shove down our throats is some kind of anti-discriminitory clause we have to abide by which would prevent the Church from excluding child abusers from being hired into positions where they have contact with kids – or declaring any criminal background checks “invasion of privacy,” etc. It’s called the “Law Of Unintended Consequences”

  128. EDG says:

    Fr Totton – I read the posts, but FOCA did not sound like a plausible reason. It’s not a local enough issue to get this kind of very targeted local attack, for one thing. But thanks to Fred’s responses, I went and looked up the situation with McDonald. I didn’t follow the gay “marriage” controversy very closely in CT and I wasn’t familiar with the players. So yes, I see it as driven primarily by this man’s anger at the Church for opposing his wishes; as Fred said, it’s pay-back.

    I suspect that places that have had a big conflict over gay “marriage” (has to have quotes, because it ain’t marriage) are going to see more of these revenge attacks. Many gay people are very influentially placed (legislators, public officials, etc.) and in the position to do substantial harm. Ironically, the thing that gave them – and groups like VOTF – a chance to get their foot in the door was the fact that for nearly 40 years, many Church officials tolerated homosexuals at all levels in the clergy, and in fact, the great majority of the sex cases were the result of homosexual aggression against teenage or nearly teenage boys. And now gays are using the very harm that they did to attempt to attack the Church.

  129. Julie says:

    On Canon Law – am in grad school and am studying that topic this semester. Unfortunately I can’t find the canon offhand, but it came up in a lecture on the powers of the clergy and laity.

    This bill is not reconcilable with canon law. Period.

    Under CL, the PASTOR is the ONLY person with executive authority in a parish. CL says that he has to LISTEN to his parish council, but he is under NO OBLIGATION to do what they say…in any matter. So if the finance committee recommends, for example, that he remove the funding for the pro-life group that goes to Washington each year, he can nod and smile and then decide to give the group MORE money…and the council can’t do anything about it.

    In the Church, the laity have only consultative authority. We can’t make laws, we can’t be in charge of financial decisions, and for good reason. Obviously, a Pastor is wise to listen to his council and follow many recommendations, however, he has the authority in order to make sure the parish doesn’t become secularized and just another social services agency (as some parishes have become).

  130. David Jensen says:

    Why was the bill written and introduced in the first place? I have tried to call Sen. McDonald and Michael Lawlor and both their business phones are (…not surprisingly) busy. Until there is open and honest discussion on this, I am not going to pass judgment. In fact, those who have passed judgment on this dialogue by using it as a platform to attack our President, who has barely been in office two months, gives me pause as to why I remain a Catholic. After all, didn’t Jesus commune with and even wash the feet of those whom he opposed? I come from a parish, St. Michael’s in Greenwich, where if there had been more transparency between (then) Fr. Moynihan and the parishioners, we could have foreseen the problems that later appeared. Brethren, we need prayer and dialogue, not confrontation.

  131. Don L says:

    With 53% of Catholics voting for an agressive supporter of infanticide in the last election and the plan B fiasco where many think the Bishops caved, I’m not at all surprised that they’d move on this now. I suspect the abortion and gay marriage thingy are behind it, but as always, the smoke of Satan is in the air, and so is the sound of the lions in the colosseum.

  132. Magdalene says:

    This bill is one that reflects hatred for the Church. And some of the comments also reflect hatred for her. Yes, the Church is composed of sinners and some of them have Roman collars or miters but to seek to usurp God-given authority is not the way to wreak revenge for the things we have been offended by.

    Lay people would do worse than priests in running a parish into the ground. One priest embezzled a lot of money…it happens in any business arena and 95% of priests are hard working and giving shepherds that do not deserve to be punished for the bad eggs.

    Our laity have been dumbed down for decades. Yes, that is the fault of the clergy. The majority of our laity and clergy voted in an obamination for government and the culture of death is entrenching itself by leaps and bounds. Conscience itself is at stake in this country. Our laity simply cannot be trusted to run a parish ala
    the protestant mode where there are tens of thousands of ‘denominations’ with each doing its own thing and straying ever farther from the truth.

    Confession of the anger and bitterness carried in the heart for years will help to ease those things that eat us up. Let not this rancor rule in hearts and seek revenge. No peace and justice in that you know.

  133. Al says:

    To David Jensen,

    Are you remotely aware of what is happening in our culture or society? Do you have ANY idea of what is going on? Let me get this straight, you want to “Dialogue” and “Reason” do you? You want to “Reason” with people who identify so strongly with their sins that they are using government to openly attack the church. You know David. It is people like you for almost the past 50 years who have done extraordinary damage to the church. I have an idea YOU go and PRAY. You pray for yourself and all the people who have given cover and have made excuses for those people who have unraveled, pulled down and tried to destroy the church from within and without. Pray HARD for them and yourself but take your “Hand-wringing” elsewhere. You want to go grovel and snivel with people who want to destroy the church? 50 YEARS! 50 YEARS OF COMPROMISE and look where it has gotten us! Disgusting…. I will not reason with Evil. I will proclaim the truth and if they do not want to hear it, I will work with others to formulate a plan to defend ourselves and the church and move beyond “Defense Only” but into “OFFENSE”!

    Take your conciliatory nature elsewhere…you have had 50 years to make it work….it’s not working. Go to the back of front and treat the wounded in silence and meditation.
    As for me and my house we will serve the lord….and if we fall, we will get up immediately, ask for forgiveness and try, try again.

  134. Richard Wang says:

    Let’s not loose sight at what this bill is really about. It’s not about financial control, it’s not about fraud, it not even really about lay control of Church.

    As mentioned before, the authors of the bill, Lawlor and McDonald are gay. They were able to ram gay marriage down the throats of the people of Connecticut. What this bill is all about is to payback for the Church’s opposition to gay marriage and a warning against Catholics getting involved in politics.

  135. Chris M says:

    “It is about time that the civil government started to put some controls on the excesses of churches in this country.”

    Yes, because governmental control of the Church has worked out SOOOO WELL in the past, hasn’t it?

  136. Jon S. says:

    There is another danger in this bill 1098:
    Any “person” (not just parishioners or state citizens,)can “request”, an investigation by the Attorney General, without evidence; if he decides there is misuse of funds he may use his powers under 3-125 to either: ask the court to appoint a fiduciary or take control of the funds. Since the State cannot discriminate he would have to use them for the public interest and dispurse to “all” charities even those that may not be consistent with Roman Cahtolics guidelines or morals. I think the real effort here is get control of the money donated for church causes and use it for other purposes. After all, donations are down because of the economy.

  137. Frank says:

    First, what I do find interesting about this blog, is that most here seem oddly happy with the status quo, but I also am convinced that this blog represents the vast minority of the sentiments of America’s RCC’s. Most of the Catholics I speak too, which is many and at least half of my friends, are beyond disgust with the workings of the RCC.

    To the post above, I like the Catholic faith, so why should I leave because the leadership continually to fails us? Shouldn’t I stay for the teachings, which say nothing about financial control I’ve ever noticed?

    It’s just that I believe it’s apparent that too high of a percentage of the leadership is unfortunately, poisoned by association – both by the current instances of financial fraud and by its involvement in the sexual abuse of the past.

    No one can argue that the RCC is a hierarchy. So I guess that would put the Bishops as maybe the Senior VP’s and Cardinals as the Executive VP’s of the RCC.

    So with this management in place, to use the unfortunate, and incredibly costly, situation of sexual abuse by priests, I would estimate that although most of these sex criminals have now been identified and expunged in some way, the fact remains that 75-80%, at least, (and it’s probably 100% unless they were totally clueless) of leadership of the church today that are at the SVP or higher level knew of some occurrences of sexual abuse for years, but either: 1) never did anything about it and pretended it didn’t exist; or 2) actively tried to cover it up and / or relocate priests around from one parish to another.

    I think that clearly falls into the Cardinal sin category.

    As far as financial fraud, because of the instances that we saw here in lower Fairfield County – coupled with the poor financial control of the archdiocese – I would be very surprised if these were isolated instances. I think it’s more likely that these instances are possibly the tip of the iceberg. But regardless, if the Greenwich and Darien incidents were amazingly the only instances, the failure of the AD to act until they were essentially forced to, is very troubling.

    I think it was Einstein who said that insanity is defined as trying the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

    To restore trust in the RCC in the United States I can see no other way other than radical change in the way the RCC in the U.S. is financially structured. Either that, or they need to clean house at the SVP level and up.

  138. wmeyer says:

    Cathguy said: “The Catholic Church in Connecticut is in a serious fight, and you simply bash Her and our Bishops, kicking Her while she is down, all so you can promote your ideological take on the events of the past 40 some odd years.”

    With all respect, you need to read what I write, not read into it as you have. Fr. Angel got it right. Not all bishops are excellent; some are. Not all priests are excellent; some are.

    The most excellent Bishop of Saginaw issued a wonderful pre-election teaching. Others did, as well, including the Bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth. Some issued insipid advice, sufficiently nuanced to be of no guidance whatsoever.

    The Church and the Catholic faithful are in need of strength and spirit, as the fight proceeds. It is not only in Connecticut that there are issues. Every bishop who has a pro-abortion Catholic in Congress is challenged by their poor examples. Every bishop with parishes where the Mass is decorated with clowns and other devices is also challenged. And every bishop in the country is challenged by the current administration, which is so bent on federally supporting the death culture.

    Be less quick to doubt an ally in the coming battles. I pray for you and your state, as well as for all our priests and bishops, that the Church may bring wayward Americans back to communion with her teachings.

  139. wmeyer says:

    Fr. Angel, thank you for perceiving the thrust of my comments.

    I am in a parish that is painfully liberal, in a diocese that is also painfully liberal. That’s not a matter of bashing anyone, but a matter of realistic assessment. Their views don’t alter my own, but it can get lonely….

  140. Cathguy says:

    Frank,

    Please…. we are not happy with the status quo.

    However, you seem unable to view the Church as the Church. You speak in your last post of VPs etc. etc. You want to view the Church through the lens of an entirely lay form of governance…. the typical American Corporation.

    With all due respect, you just don’t get it.

    The consequences of your legislation would make the Catholic Church essentially protestant in character and governance. That is absolutely unacceptable. Furthermore, where have you been? The American Corporation has hardly been scandal free. Have you forgotten Enron? Have you been watching TV? You want the Church to run like THAT? With all due respect, this Church has been here 2000 years. The American Corporation? Not so long.

    Also, to say the readers of this blog are happy with the status quo is more than a little silly. The vast majority who read Fr. Z are sick to death of liturgical abuse, prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, believe in everything the Church teaches including the evils of contraception, and do their best to live the faith of our fathers. You will also find a smattering of those who believe that everything since Vatican II smacks of the enemy of our souls.

    You want to see how the Church arguably ought to be dealing with the present crisis? Read St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gemorrah.

    All this talk about corporate governance shows one thing: you seem to think like a Corporate executive, and not like a Catholic.

  141. Cathguy says:

    David,

    Thank you for your post:

    “Why was the bill written and introduced in the first place? ”

    This bill was introduced by Sen McDonald and Rep. Lawlor. Both have a long history of hatred for the Church and for Her teachings. That said, they claim that their constituents from two parishes that had homosexual and embezzling priests requested this legislation.

    “I have tried to call Sen. McDonald and Michael Lawlor and both their business phones are (…not surprisingly) busy.”

    The vast majority of people are aghast at what these men are up to here. Their latest attack on the faith is appalling. They are running almost 100% negative feedback on the phones and emails up in Hartford. So much for those here arguing that the Church won’t or can’t stand up.

    “Until there is open and honest discussion on this, I am not going to pass judgment. In fact, those who have passed judgment on this dialogue by using it as a platform to attack our President, who has barely been in office two months, gives me pause as to why I remain a Catholic. After all, didn’t Jesus commune with and even wash the feet of those whom he opposed?”

    Uh… what? You do know what a non-sequitur is don’t you? Look. The President of the United States is using our tax dollars to fund the murder of babies over seas. That was one of his first acts in office. He today made tax-payers support paying for baby killing in the United States by lifting the Bush administrations reasonable ban on embryonic Stem Cell research. With all due respect, we are Catholic and pro-life. I don’t think you have anything in common with most people here.

    “I come from a parish, St. Michael’s in Greenwich, where if there had been more transparency between (then) Fr. Moynihan and the parishioners, we could have foreseen the problems that later appeared. Brethren, we need prayer and dialogue, not confrontation.”

    With all due respect, you are wrong. You wish to compromise on abortion and homosexuality. How do you think we got here!? Your parish may have effected you more than you know. Please consider the teachings of Scripture, Tradition, and Magesterium. Learn your faith.

  142. Daniel P. Romanello. K.M. says:

    The fact that the CT State Judiciary committee, led by Senator McDonald and Representative Lawlor, would even allow this piece of nonsensical legislation to be introduced for consideration is outrageous and a clear abuse of their office. Both Catholics and non-Catholics should be incensed and very worried about this turn of events, as the bill is profoundly discriminatory in nature.

    It also is unfathomable to think that the Judiciary committee would waste valuable time on this matter when Connecticut currently faces a $1.3 billion budget deficit.

    Simply put, this proposed bill is not at all about fiscal responsibility. Rather it is a very transparent fight over same-sex marriage and other civil rights issues – its “anonymous” authors are attempting to exact retribution from the Catholic hierarchy in Connecticut for vigorously articulating and promoting its moral stance on these matters.

    This bill not only is preposterous from a constitutional law standpoint but also a clear abuse of power by elected officials and a serious waste of the taxpayer’s money. It also is an extremely inflammatory move in which state government essentially is attempting to reorganize and control the governance of the Catholic Church in Connecticut. As the saying goes – “what were they thinking?”

    I will leave the legal debate to those far better qualified to articulate why the bill is so hopelessly flawed. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that this audacious and disingenuous bill MUST BE DEFEATED. True Roman Catholics – those who adhere to, and live the teachings of the Church in their lives – must mobilize and be in Hartford on Wednesday. We must end this legislative attempt to highjack our faith and work aggressively to unseat those who authored and promoted it.

  143. supertradmom says:

    Shades of Communist Russia and China……………………

  144. supertradmom says:

    More on the same line–America is becoming a tyranny like Communist Russia without a shot being fired. Our Bill of Rights is being eroded-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, rights for the unborn, protection of natural law, including marriage, right to protect property, and so on.

    Time for fasting and penance?

  145. supertradmom says:

    P.S. Are your post times not on Daylight Savings Time? Just curious.

  146. Cathguy says:

    Supertradmom,

    You are always a breath of fresh air.

    God bless

  147. Fr. Angel says:

    Cathguy:

    Very good points in all your posts, which I enjoy, and thank you for providing the excellent constitutional analysis by Philip Lacovara.

    Frank, if you love Catholic teaching, please re-read Vatican I and Vatican II “Lumen Gentium.” They speak of the Pope’s primacy and the ordinary power of the diocesan bishop. This is not just sacramental power and this is not just the power of saying pious things. The hierarchy governs the Church with veto power, power to punish, power to intervene, and power to direct the use of finances and all material possessions, including property.

    Yes, scandals have occured. Nobody here advocates “status quo.” What I personally advocate is that we:

    1) get angry at particular scandals and their accomplices and suggest concrete steps that are proportionate and not exaggerated
    2) Give credit where it is due, that means thanking the bishops and lay faithful in Conn. and across the country who saw the problems, sat down, and implemented new steps for oversight and accountability 3) Stop making excuses for people who have publicly stated their hatred for the Church or worse, stop parroting their bigotry because it satisfies our need to trash the clergy.
    4) Never brag about our Catholic roots and fancy education as a pretext which entitles us to trash not only the clergy, but paint our entire Church’s efforts as inept and incompetent. With hateful language coming out of the mouths of bitter Catholics, who needs the Klan. They can just hang up their white robes and enjoy the show put on by Catholics who have become bigoted against their own church.
    5) Never, ever forget that for one priest who stole money and got away with it, in our U.S.Catholic history there are a hundred who scrimped and saved and worked tirelessly to build up the churches, schools, convents, orphanages, etc. that we now enjoy. The U.S. Catholic story is an amazing success story considering what our bishops and priests did in just the last 100 years. And the stories are added to with the present bishops and priests who have stewarded money and property well. It is precisely because so much was stewarded well that lawyers who sued us have been handsomely paid.

    Devout and orthodox Catholics are not against change. They know that the Church moves too slow at times with needed change, but they still consider it their church that they love; they work little by little, brick by brick, to improve her while keeping her faithful to the Faith of our Fathers; for devout Catholics, she never stops being mother church, even with her foibles.

    If my brother came home and started bad mouthing my mother and bragging how she is going to get her comeuppance at the hands of the law, I don’t care how mad I am at mom, I would tell that brother to get lost and go find another mother–and that is what I would do if I was in a real good mood.

    It is in that spirit that people have told you, with your attitudes, to go find another church. I would rather say that you need to find a prayerful and constructive way to bring about change for the better in your parish–bad mouthing the church and clergy in general is just going to show others how good you can be at bad mouthing.

  148. Bobcatholic says:

    So, this is how Separation of Church and State works? The Church can’t tell the state what to do but the state can tell the Church what to do?

    Interesting.

    What’s that sound? Sounds like goose-stepping….

  149. edward pantano says:

    I have read state bill 1098 and am at a great loss to understand what part of it contradicts the Nicene Creed.

  150. Fr. Angel says:

    Edward:

    Perhaps you are at a great loss because many Catholics do not know their Scripture. The Nicene Creed states:

    “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

    Now, open up your Bible to the Acts of the Apostles and read about how money and possessions was laid at the feet of the Apostles, do be distributed in the community. One couple did not want to submit their finances to the administration of St. Peter and they were struck dead on the spot.

    I do not wish anything like that upon those who support this bill. The point I am making is that the Apostles governed the church in all matters, including finances (until later they asked the deacons to help take this over). Read also St. Paul’s letters to see how he took charge of a collection for the Jerusalem community and was very much in charge of the money.

    When we rattle off that line Sunday after Sunday from the Creed, we are confessing faith in an apostolic, hierarchical church. We are stating that as believers we submit to that apostolic authority, as the Word of God has clearly spelled that authority out and given it dominion over us.

    God the Father sent His Son, not a committee, when He wanted to redeem the world. Our church is not democratic, lay run, and propelled by popular movements or populist fads. The bishops have succeeded to the apostles’ office and authority. To have that clearly spelled out, I refer you to Vatican I. Most Protestants are content to use Scripture and the Nicene Creed as a sole reference, but the truly Catholic mind is also informed by the dogmas of all the councils.

  151. Jordanes says:

    Good news: the unconstitutional attack on the Catholic religion has been turned aside. The bill has been withdrawn:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0901106.htm

  152. Gloria says:

    I just heard about this on Glen Beck. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and if this happens in CT, we’re next! Let your Mormon friends know and they will stand with you like we did on Prop 8 in California. Since we don’t have a paid ministry, all our donations (except those collected for local welfare) go to Church headquarters in Salt Lake where they are then used to build buildings, etc. worldwide. That way congregations in Nigeria or El Salvadore are treated the same as US. Also, that way we can support moral causes worldwide with efficiency. Let LDS members know in CT, they will be there for you! My prayers will be for your success in stopping this outrage also.

  153. The bill is pulled, for this legislative session apparently, but it is not entirely dead. Therefore, there will be a rally and an ‘informational’ hearing held by the Republicans. AirMaria will brave the rain and cover the events live. Broadcast will start at 11AM EDT. Keep us in your prayers.

  154. Joan says:

    NO! the bill has not been withdrawn! Don’t be naive! They were going to railroad it thru in a week, were stunned at the bishops rallying the troops in only 2 days with mandatory statements at every Mass, and free bus trips to the 3/11 hearing, which means big media. So they make a lame excuse about “further study” and simply POSTPONED until the next session. There is every intention of getting this passed. Democrat pro-abort Catholics, VOTF, gays and Jesuit professors are behind it, what more proof that it’s evil, and will go forward? OF COURSE IT WILL.

  155. Francisco says:

    We are entering a tremendous religious persecution, like that of the early Christians.

  156. A bit more says:

    3/14/09 Everyone’s still talking about this. So…

    Take a look at the video of Brian Brown testifying back in 3/07. They were even worse on 3/5/09 with the Catholic liaison of CT Catholic Conference and the new head of Family Institute of CT. http://airmaria.com/?sn=1&vp=123&prefx=news&plyrnb=1&ttl=News

    This is about getting in and taking charge and using the finances/admin. as a smokescreen. It’s about the Sacraments of Marriage, Confession and even Holy Orders. Females are not and will not be “in persona Christi” priests – only men. This is about getting inside and even removing priests and bishops who disagree with the secular views (porn., abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage and other stuff we couldn’t even imagine). Strange that they just won’t break away and start a separate church like they’ve done in the past. This must be what happens when splits occur at any time.

    A notice today read, “Brazen as ever, the legislators at the center of the storm–Sen. Andrew McDonald (D-Stamford) and Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven)–have responded to this week’s events by launching two new attacks on faith and family! They have scheduled a public hearing on a transgendered special rights bill for this Thursday (March 19th) and they have now raised an assisted suicide bill. Lawlor and McDonald’s agenda seems to be to support whatever the Catholic Church or other Christians oppose.”

    About the video link above. Brian Brown is correct. We must be involved politically and absolutely with Sacraments and prayer. That will give us the Strength to do what we’ll have to do. Mother Teresa was an active nun who spent 5 hrs.per day w/holy Mass&Adoration. Mother Mary has intervened so many times in the history of the world. We must turn to her. She is the Mother of all God’s Children. (Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico and the miraculous Tilma from the 1500’s). The Rosary, prayers for true peace and Divine Mercy are powerful. Read up on St. Faustina Poland 1930. I’m learning about the Precious Blood prayers too. Approved as well by the church, about a young man in Nigeria and Jesus 1997.

    You must know that Mike Lawlor earned a BA in Slav(Russian) studies. Earned an MS in Policy Studies and went two years to George Mason Univ. Law School. He later, after the wall came down, studied inRussia ln the 1990’s. There is a pattern here. Andrew McDonald went to Cornell or Columbia (ivy league) for his poli.sci. BA, then uconn law. We need to pray and fast for them too. Very important.

    Without too much objection, I must refer to The Abundant Life show on EWTN this week that discusses a “certain” religion. You can get copies by callingEternal word Televisionnetwork. I must also refer to the late 1500’s incorrupt nuns in quito,equador. Hard to believe but all 8 nuns are still incorrupt 400 yrs. later. Their mother superior had Church approved apparitions of Mother Mary. These are called ourlady ofgood success. I learned that prayer isn’t only for the living, and those who have passed (Catholics know there is a purgatory before Heaven) but for the future. Now, if you can understand this, the mother superior was told to pray without ceasing for the 20thce ntury because a “group,” would have control over finance and the media. This influence has spread to health and education. Eventually, when everything would look absolutely hopeless, there would be a complete restoration of herSon’s Church. All faiths will have to be involved, it’s the only way.