Who was behind the Connecticut legislation?

I understand that the anti-Catholic legislation introduced in the Connecticut Legislature has been put on hold.

An interesting detail:

The legislation was withdrawn at the request of the one who proposed it.

Interesting, no?

"But Father! But Father!", you might be saying.  "Who proposed this in the first place?"

I’m glad you asked.  Read this closely.

The New Haven Register credits Connecticut attorney Thomas Gallagher as spearheading the bill, and an article by an officer of the dissident Catholic group Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport stated that Gallagher had been in dialogue with legislators on this issue since 2007.

 

Look at this article, "A proposal: Look to Civil law to reform parishes", in the ultra-lefty dissenters mouthpiece the National Catholic Reporter, which supported the scheme in Connecticut.

The article is by Thomas Gallagher

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57 Responses to Who was behind the Connecticut legislation?

  1. Rancher says:

    As a lawyer he should (but apparently doesn’t) know that civil law has no business regulating the organization and administration of churches. Apparently somewhere in his collective educational experience, consisting of high school civics, probably college level government, and his law school studies of the U S Constitution, he seems to have slept through any and all discussions of the separation of Church and state. Or, perhaps, he has an agenda that he wishes to pursue in spite of all the legal reasons why his approach cannot succeed. Precisely the sort of agenda that will undoubtedly score him points with the liberal CINO crowd. Cheez!

  2. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    More liberal confusion. Laugh or cry?

  3. Al says:

    I love it when the liberals try to blame the state the church is in on how the church is structured. So lets state the obvious, they are the ones responsible for the state the church is in as they have been in power…time for them to go bye bye

  4. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Was this an attempt at “payback” for the Church’s principled stands on abortion, gay marriage, stem cells, etc. as His Excellency, Bishop Lori, seems to think? (If the bishops actually had some backbone to go with their principles, I might be in a more believing frame-of-mind.)

    Yes, NCR is a rotten tree: a tomb full of dead people’s bones . . . but, goshdarnit, some of what Gallagher says actually makes sense: e.g., stewardship; transparency; conflicts of interest.

    Of course, we all know that the civil law has no business regulating how the Church organizes Herself . . . except, for those cases where the Church suggests — with a wink and a nod — that parishes might use the law to re-incorproate individually so as to avoid future lawsuits for errant clergy.

    Then, “Larry Law” is fine by the bishops!

  5. Joe Gallaher says:

    Could it be George Soros?

  6. Mary O says:

    If it is true that Gallagher is a Knight of Columbus, then the Knights know now what they have to do…

  7. Alessandro says:

    [Edited by Fr. Z. No SHOUTING on my blog, please.]

  8. DeborahAnne says:

    I found this interesting… One of the 5 platforms of Voice of the Faithful:

    “Universal Church Reform platform focuses on the broader Church through issues that affect the entire people of God—for example, mandatory celibacy and its impact on priests and laity, the role of women in the Church, and the process by which bishops and pastors are selected. Facilitating national dialogue on such issues is essential and must involve well-executed, often creative external communications.”

    By all means, let us not stifle creativity! Are these the voices of the faithful? Surely, they jest. I continue to pray.

    Excerpt from VOTF website: http://votf.org/vineyard/Dec8_2008/SP_Narrative.pdf

    Deus Lux Mea

  9. Amy says:

    GRRRRRR…

  10. Rancher says:

    Mary O
    If he is a Knight you may be correct–that they know now what they have to do. But the question is do they have the intestinal fortitude to do it. Our Cathedral parish has a “Grand Knight” who has openly supported a string of pro abortion candidates for President–Kerry, Clinton, Obama. It was brought to the attention of the Knight’s leadership at the state and national levels and their response was that there was nothing they could do about it. Of course they were in good company as neither the Cathedral Rector nor the Chancery Office had any stomach for taking him on either. When I further questioned, in a reasonably polite way, how they could have a leader of the Knights who was openly supporting a pro abortion candidate (series of them actually) I was told in not so polite language to “bug off”. So good luck. May the CT Knights are a little more conscientious.

  11. Fr. Angel says:

    Matthew W.I. Dunn:

    When Catholic laypersons go around (sneak around) their fellow Catholics and attempt to use the law/the state, to seize control of the church, that is just petty politics which is agenda driven and divisive.

    When Catholic bishops use the law, however, to have parishes incorporate individually, there is nothing immoral going on. The bishops should address the injustice of having lawyers seize parish assets for lawsuits against the diocese. That is American justice and fair play at work.

    When fair-minded Americans find out that parish property and money is used to pay for the misconduct of the bishop’s office, they do not see the bishops as trying to escape responsibilities. Rather, they ask, “why should a church in my local community be punished for the misconduct of the bishop’s office?”

    As for transparency, you are either ignorant of the numerous changes in church finance guidelines in Conn. and other states, or perhaps you just committed an oversight in mentioning these. Conn. Catholics involved with the finance issues know for a fact that their voice has been heard for change in financial oversight. They don’t need their sneaky correligionists trying to intervene under the pretext of helping the church have better management.

  12. The liberals gave the power of running the Church to the State once before, it was called the Reformation, or to us Catholics the Protestant Revolt, I believe. No surprise that they are stooping to this again, I guess separation of Church and State really means the Church needs to shut up and do what we tell her in their minds.

  13. TJM says:

    Bishop Lori should excommunicate Gallagher and any other fake Catholics involved in this initiative. Enough is enough. Fascist America brought compliments of Doug Kmiec’s new best friend, President Obama. Can one even imagine the rage and catterwalling if a gasp! a Republican had proposed this type of legislation? Tom

  14. What else to expect from Voice of the (Un)Faithful? They did say they wanted to restructure the Church, so this is consistent with their goals.

  15. Merriweather says:

    The rally is still on though—as the bill is still active. Noon tomorrow–here’s the bus schedule if you live in CT.

    http://www.bridgeportdiocese.com/folder_bridgedocs/Bus%20Schedule.pdf

  16. Rancher says:

    Fr Marie-Paul

    You hit the nail on the head. It is not only the desire of the socialists to restructure American society and culture, the economy, and eliminate us as a world power but it the desire of those same folks to, as you said, restructure the Church and eliminate its authority in the World. Same people, same agenda and totally sickening. The only pragmatic question at this point is how do we stop them. Pray–yes but I’m thinking some action in addition to that must be forthcoming.

  17. Emilio III says:

    Is there any recourse in canon law against parishioners who attempt to use civil law to take over their parish?

  18. Alessandro says:

    Fr. Z,

    Truly apologize, I had no intention of shouting.

    pax et bonum,

    Alessandro

    P.S.- THe bill is only postponed, not cancelled, the rally is still on, and the people are determined to get this done.

  19. Barbara Gallagher, Florida says:

    I was outraged listening to Glenn Beck just now. Then I went to my computer to research the issue and I realize that this move is being made to protect the assets of a parish and Diocese in the face of losing lawsuits against priests who have been convicted of sexual mis-conduct.

    But, it was presented by Glenn Beck and his guests that 1098 was in retaliation for not supporting gay marriage?

    Should the State or Federal Government be allowed to re-structure the Canon Law of the Catholic Church? Absolutely no! Should members of a Parish have to pick-up the tab for the Bishop’s cover-ups? No.

    Catholics of Conneticut, fight hard!

  20. prof. basto says:

    When will the National Catholic Reporter be:

    - declared by the Church a non-Catholic publication?

    - brought to court for the improper use of the adjective “Catholic”?

    - faced with the excommunication of its editors and writers?

    Its high time all those things happen!

    ********************

    To defend a proposal whereby civil legislation ceases to recognize the right of the canonical Catholic Hierarchy (Pope, Bishops, parish Priests) to govern Church property is to defend the destruction the organized hierarchical society of the Church itself!!!!!!!!!

    This subject makes my blood pressure sky-rocket. This has been done before, and the Church was greatly harmed.

    Due to the particularities of the Catholic religion, the (Protestant) model of Church property control in which the faithful have control over ecclesiastical property is incompatible with our Faith (and with the Faith of the Orthodox, etc).

    And again: what about the First Amendment to your Constitution????

    It seems to me that from the perspective of the First Amendment question, the statement by “Voice of the Faithful” is revealling: they want to “reform parishes” via a change in civil legislation. Well, it is not the place of the civil legislator to meddle into the internal affairs of a religious group by adopting legislation that will efect changes in the internal organization of the religious group (“parish reform”). It is clearly a form of State intervention in internal Church affairs of a religious group (in this case, The Religion).

  21. Fight hard against their own Priests and Bishops oh that’s just great Barbara really wonderful, lets have a civil war in the Church should we, a Revolution, lay class against Priest and Bishop Class! Yes that’s what we need, we demand equity, no more priests and Bishops!

    But wait then who will feed us, the sheep? Who will teach us? Who will go before God on our behalf? How will we be able to be saved at all?!

    On second thoughts this revolution business all sounds like a really bad idea, maybe we should just be obedient to those to whom God has given authority to, after all they live to serve us already, if they are no longer there their won’t be anyone to sacrifice their life’s for our salvation. They make mistakes and sometimes even not serve us the way we want but its still better than not been served at all right?

  22. ssoldie says:

    Such a nice Irish Catholic name, for such a nice Irish Catholic lad, Gallagher. Shameful,Shameful.

  23. EDG says:

    Barbara, the sexual misconduct scandal was just a pretext. I don’t live in CT (I live in FL, too), but I have been so puzzled by the circumstances of this rather sudden, unexpected attack that I have tried to find out more about it. From what I have learned from people in CT, this legislation was written or proposed by parishioners of a parish that had a gay pastor who embezzled a 7-figure sum over the years, most of which went to his boyfriend. The parishioners supposedly used a draft based on model legislation created by VOTF, which has been trying to get lay control of Church property for a long time. It has nothing to do with protecting anything; perhaps CT parishes need a better financial and ethical oversight system, but this is not it.

    In other words, Thomas Gallagher seized the problem of that parish and used it as a perfect pretext for what he has obviously been trying to do for a long time. I don’t know anything about Gallagher, whether he belongs to that parish, whether he belongs to VOTF, etc.

    And then the cause was picked up by the two gay legislators, McDonald and Lawlor, who hate the Church because of its opposition to gay “marriage.”

    In other words, they had the perfect storm – but there is still no way that this law can be justified in any way, and it would not solve the problem in any case.

  24. ED says:

    Not surprising another phony Catholic is spearheading this drive, the state has nothing to say about the faith. Of course the Bishops and the Knights of Columbus are responsible for this crap by allowing dissendent Catholics in their ranks. The idea of a parish council running the local parish only works if you have devout zealous Catholics on it. Rarely the case the majority are at best indifferent Catholics there usually cause they are busybodies or their kids are in the local parish school so they wont have to deal with the violent incompetent local public school.What we need is a strong POPE who appoints only strong zealous Bishops to the dioceses. I believe the Masonic Order is the unseen force behind all these legal challenges the Church is facing ,they have their people in position inside and outside the Church these days.

  25. Al says:

    Can we finally start excommunicating the heretics please? The people, who live in the secular world, are attacked from all sides, we come to the church for sanctuary and yet we have heretics in the church. Our culture is sick, if we do not clean our own house and do it faster than we are, we will never get about the business of the rest of society.

    We thirst for strong morale leadership…please

  26. cthemfly25 says:

    It does seem that the secularlists are becoming more aggressive: FOCA, stem cell, abortion funding, Planned Parenthood funding, ACORN funding, and now the Church is experiencing what so many of us face regularly—direct intervention in its governance. These will be ongoing battles throughout the country and the enemy will be within.

  27. cthemfly25 says:

    It does seem that the secularists are becoming more aggressive: FOCA, stem cell, abortion funding, Planned Parenthood funding, ACORN funding…. And, now the Church is experiencing what so many of us face regularly—direct intervention in its institutional life and governance. These will be ongoing battles throughout the country and the enemy will be within.

  28. TJM says:

    The wonderful fascist world ushered in by the “Age of Obama.” Next time some Dem or fake Catholic tells me Bush was a “Nazi”, watch out is all I can say. O tempora, O mores ! Tom

  29. Matt of South kent says:

    Nothing like a little persecution to bring the faithfull together.

    Now maybe their eyes will be open and they will realize that liberal politicos are not their friends. People like Tom Gallagher are rooting for them.

    Its a real lesson, priest steals $1million for his gay lover and two openly gay legislators bring this bill.

  30. Rob Federle says:

    Two things regarding the above comments. First, the Knights of Columbus, as a rule, are ultra-supportive of Holy Mother Church, and anyone truly a Knight of Columbus would never have anything to do with this type of legislation. Secondly, I’ve seen, from many sources, that this has more to do with a radical gay agenda than anything else.

  31. GordonBOPS says:

    I hope this is a wakeup call to all Bishops in the US that its time to start teaching like never before. This is only the beginning, and would appear to be part and parcel with the deteriation of the Catholic Church in the Northeast.

  32. PubliusIII says:

    Despite the crisis in the Church, we should not abandon the age old concern for the libertas Ecclesias.However, Gallagher is on to something. Has the Church ever been in such a state? It seems that having gotten total freedom (no civil authority giving a hoot about the episcopacy, it fell to unbelieveable levels of mediocrity if not depravity). At almost every other times in the Church’s history post Constantine, civil authority took an interest in the doings of the Church. Emperor, King, or even local prince or doge had some real influence on the Church and vis versa. This was a healthy dialectic though each side had to guard its perogative jealously. I reminded of the Chantry Chaples in Henrican and Elizabethan England. These chapels under civil control remained faithful far longer than the regular parishes under the bishop. So by all means, oppose this legislation but lets not thinkg that a dictatorial Irish monsignor will solve all problems.

  33. John Enright says:

    All polemics aside, I am grateful that this monstrous, unconstitutional bill has been yanked. It never should have seen the light of day.

  34. Cathguy says:

    I am a member of the Knights of Columbus.

    I have fought hard here in Connecticut to defeat this legislation.

    I heartened that so few supported this awful measure.

    I am AGHAST that one of the men responsible for the attack is a Knight of Columbus.

    I do not know Supreme Knight Anderson’s email address, but I respectfully emailed my concerns through Supreme’s main page.

    Does anyone know Supreme Knight Anderson’s contact information?

    I will send a letter via snail mail as well.

  35. Aine says:

    “The legislation was withdrawn at the request of the one who proposed it.”

    I wonder why? Was he scared off by the hullabaloo but surely he expected it. He’s also a lawyer, so why would he bring such an obvious no-goer in the first place, and why would those legislators not only bring it forward but push it through so fast. This isn’t over by a long shot. The Obama effect…

  36. Fr. Angel says:

    PubliusIII:

    I don’t deny that there was a problem of not enough financial oversight. But Gallagher and VOTF present the wrong solutions.

    Without any intervention of the Conn. legislature, good lay Catholics have presented the following changes to their bishops and diocesan finance councils:

    1) Requiring that collection money during Mass be sealed in bank bags and opened only before the parish counting committee, which must have at least 4 revolving people who are unrelated (couples not allowed to count money together and never allowing a counter to be alone with money).
    2) Requiring that money coming in to the parish office be receipted at all times, and detailed deposit forms show that all money which is receipted is actually deposited. At no time do clergy handle donations from Mass or monies received in the parish office.
    3) No cash transactions ever allowed without going through the parish checkbook and no petty cash kept on hand. When cash is needed, a check for cash is written and the finance council, at their meeting, verify with receipts/invoice why the cash was used instead of just writing a check.
    4) The parish finance council reviews the parish checkbooks and credit accounts in detail, check by check, and allows for no purchases or reimbursements without receipts and paper trail.
    5) The bishop must review parish finance council minutes to see that regular meetings are held and that the council is auditing the parish accounts.
    6) Parish finance council members have direct and immediate access to the diocesan finance council.
    7) The pastor cannot remove duly elected and installed parish finance council members before their term comes to an end unless the bishop approves a removal himself.

    These and other changes can be implemented without state intervention into the Church’s governance, which historically has a very spotty record of success.

    It is both possible to tighten up the rules in our church concerning how money is handled and spending is audited, and to also respect the role of the clergy and bishops to make the decisions which are for the good of the parish or diocese. There is no need for clergy and the faithful to be pitted against each other over the issue of money.

  37. chotock says:

    Prof. Basto, in 1968 Bishop Helmsing of the diocese Kansas City-St. Joseph demanded that they cease using the word Catholic in their name, obviously they did not obey. No surprises there eh.

  38. I have called upon my Archbishop (Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC) to ban VOTF from any Church facility. I know they currently meet at Holy Trinity in Georgetown (what else is new) and may still be meeting at St. Rose of Lima in Gaithersburg, MD. If any priest or religious refuses, they should be removed from their position and/or asked to leave the diocese.

    We cannot continue to have people who wish to destroy the Church meeting on Church property. Let them meet at the local Elks Lodge or some other place. Why help them.

  39. “Comment by A Washington DC Catholic — 11 March 2009 @ 5:45 am”

    Contact me. Soon. Very soon.

  40. Lourdes says:

    It appears that Mr. Gallagher has vowed to push this proposed legislation next year as well:
    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/localnews/ci_11882379

    He says he will keep pushing it until the law is passed.

  41. Fr Gregoire Fluet says:

    Missing from this story, however, is the part played by Dr Lakeland, chairman of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. Dr Lakeland has advocated the use of the legislature to “reform” the Church. He is an ex-priest, writes for the Huffington Post and Commonweal. He is also author of several books, including one that calls for the reforming the Church via the laity. I believe he had a greater role in then is realized.

  42. TJM says:

    So Father Fluet, Lakeland would have supported the “Constitutional Church” during the French Revolution instead of the real one. Makes sense. Tom

  43. Maynardus says:

    Hmm – sounds like the same playbook as the current administration in Washington is using: “Never waste a crisis”! Birds of a feather…

  44. tertullian says:

    The Knights of Columbus (or anyone in CT for that matter) should avail themselves of the Public Records Act (FOIA) and request copies of all records in the Connecticut Legislature pertaining to this Bill. There is,most likely, a trail of emails recording the gestation of this heinous attempt to usurp the foundation of the Church. These records would establish who is behind this putsch.

  45. Charivari Rob says:

    Is it just me, or is this whole thing an eerie reflection of today’s reading from Jeremiah? [Jer 18: 18-20]

    “…Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah. It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests, nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets. And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue…”

  46. john says:

    Good place for Catholics in CT to start. http://www.ctcatholic.org

  47. Should we be surprised! We are in the midst of a master plan of persecution. They will use anything their weak minds can contrive. We pray and thank God. Those who think attacks will weaken us, let them beware. The blood of martyrs is the seed of faith. All persecution will do is strengthen the “faithful”.

  48. Lynne says:

    have called upon my Archbishop (Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC) to ban VOTF from any Church facility…. If any priest or religious refuses, they should be removed from their position and/or asked to leave the diocese.

    Excellent idea! They are also meeting in at least one parish, still, in the Archdiocese of Boston.

  49. Matt says:

    Another reason we need to act swiftly and excommunicate this group and other dissenters. Hack off a dead limb before it damages the rest of the body.

  50. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Dear Fr. Angel (and, others):

    Before we get too crazy and start talking about “master plans” of the Antichrist, persecution, the Illuminati, and whatnot, let’s recall one simple fact:

    The Catholic Church in Connecticut is and has been already — as we speak — subject to regulation by the State. Very minimal regulations, but regulations nonetheless.

    And, I don’t recall the tuft on Fr. Z’s biretta getting all stiff over the matter or him crying out, “Anti-Catholicism!.”

    And, I don’t recall people going into hysterics because Connecticut required by law that the Catholic Church have 2 lay trustees overseeing parish finances.

    Interesting how some people on this site — I’m not thinking of you, Fr. Angel — are willing to give the anti-Semite Bishop Williamson a pass, but are ready to assume the worst about Mr. Gallagher’s motives.

    On another topic, Fr. Angel wrote:

    When Catholic bishops use the law, however, to have parishes incorporate individually, there is nothing immoral going on. The bishops should address the injustice of having lawyers seize parish assets for lawsuits against the diocese.

    Suffering for doing evil? That’s justice.
    Trying to avoid suffering for having done evil? That’s immoral.

    But, soon Christ the Lover of Children will come and He’ll sort this one out.

  51. John says:

    Regardless of the fallacy of using civil law to \”reform\” a religous organization where membership is voluntary, there are a few valid concepts that I wish Bishops would employ as an internal matter.

    For example, retaining traditional roles completely but also allowing parish boards to place a vote of “no confidence” in a pastor. Restricting when the vote is taken and requiring that a “no confidence” vote pass by a sizable magority will prevent frivolous use of the concept.

  52. Scott W. says:

    And, I don’t recall people going into hysterics because Connecticut required by law that the Catholic Church have 2 lay trustees overseeing parish finances.

    They did? Thanks for the heads up. One to add to the chopping block list.

  53. MargaretMN says:

    The thing that makes this so off the charts bad is that it’s bad not just for Catholics, it’s bad legislation. You cannot make law that is directed at one organized group, particularly not a religious group. It violates 2 constitutional principles right from the start. If you try to make a general law about how organizations are structured and regulated there are even more constitutional principles you run afoul of (and more groups, even non-religious ones) that would come under it’s scope. I can’t see anybody interesting in prosecuting the church in the abuse scandals or in the cases of financial impropriety would want parishes to be self-regulating. An essential theory of those cases was that the local parishes were not being adequately regulated or given the right kind of oversight. I can see why church “progressives” afraid of the return to orthodoxy want to prevent new bishops from reigning them in. We had a case in Minneapolis where if this law were in force, a church that had basically become a weird pantheist cult would have been able to thumb their nose at the archbishop. As it was, the bishop reassigned the priest who was allowing this to occur and the cult ceremoniously left the building to celebrate their pagan rituals down the street. Another case in point that was more successful for progressives: The University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, which is unusual for being under the authority of the archdiocese but has a board of trustees decided just before our new archbishop was installed to boot the archbishop from the board, starting with the term of the new archbishop. If that weren’t bad enough, they decided to allow the current bishop to retain HIS place on the board. The presumption was that he had been pliant in the past and would continue to be so, unlike the new guy. Many alums were outraged but others rejoiced. Including somebody who gave them a whopping $50M right after that.

  54. Carol McKinley says:

    LOL. And, they called me a conspiracy theorist when I brought everyone all the information five years ago in Boston!

  55. Fr. Angel says:

    Matthew W.I. Dunn:

    “Suffering for doing evil? That’s justice.
    Trying to avoid suffering for having done evil? That’s immoral.”

    I totally agree that evildoers should suffer. What I do not agree with is that innocent people get dragged into doing penance for someone else’s crime.

    Your assertion still has a logical disconnect going on; e.g., the bishop’s office in Diocese X was complicit in moving around a criminal priest and gets sued. But the assets and property of St. Elsewhere, which had nothing to do with the complicity or the crime, are to be used to pay for the lawsuit. The bishop does the evil but the parish must pay for it because of the way the corporations laws are written, even though the parish is innocent.

    Now, bishops are asking corporation laws to be rewritten for parishes because their people are pointing out the injustice of making parishes pay for crimes of the chancery office.

    In Protestant congregations, this cannot happen because their laws of incorporation do not allow for that and don’t have that structural setup. Most Americans belong to Protestant congregations and can see that it is just plain unfair to burden Catholic congregations and make them suffer because of the chancery office.

    Yet you still claim that bishops are trying to avoid suffering because they say, “leave St. Elsewhere out of the lawsuit against me–they are not responsible.” You do not explain this disconnect–the bishop did the crime, but an innocent third party (St. Elsewhere) has to be dragged into the lawsuit.

    On the other hand, you seem comfortable with a new law which would legally remove the parish from the chancery’s structure–thereby making its assets untouchable for a molestation lawsuit against the bishop.

    That goes beyond a logical disconnect. That’s a contradiction–if the bishop legally separates the parish corporation, its immoral and trying to escape suffering. If the state of Conn. does it, that’s fine because the clergy shouldn’t be controlling the laity’s assets.

    Even Christ the Lover of Children could not sort out that clash of thinking, because it takes two opposing ideas and says they’re both true!

  56. MomsHugs says:

    You must hear only the echo of your own voices to believe your views are those of millions of Catholics in our country. The radical political rhetoric that is expressed in your comments simply does not reflect the quiet faith in God’s love that Jesus brought to us, nor the people who quietly carry out that love.

    As for the Connecticut Religious Corporations Act adopted in 1866 & amended in 1947, it incorporated exceptions requested by 6 churches including Roman Catholic, intended to provide state legal protection of each particular governing structure, especially with respect to control & protection of property from liability claims & state property taxation.

    The Roman Catholic exception does provide for governing each parish as a “religious corporation” by a Bishop or Archbishop, the Diocese Vicar General & the parish pastor, as “ex-officio” members of the parish, plus two lay members that are appointed by 2 “ex-officio” members. Bottom line is these special section of the statute eliminated any legal challenge in state courts to control over the parish financial decisions & property. Preparing a budget is not equivalent to major decisions to sell property.

    The request was for an amendment to add more lay members, elected by a majority of parish members & with voting rights. These folks wanted more say in major parish financial decisions – not doctrinal matters. Their concern was about the financial viability of their parishes in light of recent embezzling by priests & sale of parish property to pay sex-abuse settlements.

    Liability for covering up sex-abuse cases resulted in settlements totaling $2.1 Billion since 2002 ($437 Million in 2008 alone). To raise that much money, Archbishops & Bishops have been closing churches & selling parish property all across the country. These autocratic decisions angered parishioners who paid for their churches & other property intended for expansion & maintenance. Such feelings of helpless anger have grown as more cases were found to be true & settlements were reached.

    The 2 Connecticut parishes lost huge sums embezzled by parish priests. Many people are angry, but given the power of Bishops, they’ve understandably hid behind Legislative Representatives to seek an amendment giving lay members a bigger voice & vote – along with the bishop & parish priest – but only over parish FINANCES!

    Unfortunately, first the amendment was not written as requested, then the Bishop & Archbishop used the pulpit as well as the media to manipulate & obfuscate the truth. It would not be the first time, nor will it be the last time. Can you really blame the parishioners for trying to protect what they have paid for?