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Catholic League blasts bill on clergy abuse, accuses lawmaker of trying to ‘police the sacraments of the Catholic Church’

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 13, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — A group dedicated to defending the Catholic Church and its traditions is blasting a lawmaker for a bill that essentially removes the clergy exemption for reporting disclosures of abuse.

“You are treading on dangerous territory,” Bill Donahue, the group’s president, wrote in a letter obtained by FOX 13. “When the government seeks to police the sacraments of the Catholic Church — or encroach on the tenets of any world religion — it is gearing up for a court fight.”

The letter was written to Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, who is sponsoring House Bill 90, which removes the “priest-penitent privilege” and requires clergy to contact law enforcement. The bill was first reported on by FOX 13 in July and again when Rep. Romero made the legislation public.

She has argued the bill is necessary in the face of ongoing disclosures about religious institutions either covering up abuse, or not doing enough to combat it. Rep. Romero has long sponsored sexual abuse prevention legislation on Capitol Hill.

The Catholic League sent out an email urging its followers to contact House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, to complain.

“I can tell you this: the Catholic League’s intimidation tactic only made me more determined to pass this bill,” Rep. Romero said in a text message to FOX 13.

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said Donahue did not contact them about his actions. The Diocese said it is still reviewing the bill and has not yet taken a position on it.

Other faith groups, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, have also taken a similar stance of reviewing the bill and not yet offering a position on it.

Read the letter here: