ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
Legislative Update (03/26/21)
Attempt to Force Priests to Violate the Seal of Confession Fails
A new effort in the form of a late strike-everything amendment (HB 2494) to have priests violate the Seal of Confession was heard this week in the Senate Education Committee where it failed to pass on a 4-4 vote. An earlier version of this legislation (SB 1008) was introduced this session, but also died when it was not heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Legislation proposing to remove the Seal of Confession and involve government regulation of a sacrament is a very troubling First Amendment matter. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that a priest, with no exceptions, is forbidden from disclosing sins learned in the Confessional.
Accordingly, the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) has worked extensively on these measures and is sincerely grateful to Senators T.J. Shope, Nancy Barto, Sally Gonzalez, and Rick Gray for making a strong stand for religious liberty and voting no on HB 2494.
The ACC was also pleased this week to see movement on a bill (SB 1254) requiring the State of Arizona to highlight adoption as an option by providing easily accessible information to women faced with an unwanted pregnancy. With the approval of the House Health and Human Services Committee, the bill is now expected to move to the House floor relatively soon.
Finally, a beneficial strike-everything amendment (SB 1297) was introduced in the House Ways and Means Committee that will significantly help charities and school organizations in Arizona. SB 1297, as amended, now proposes to extend the state income tax filing deadline to conform to the new federal deadline of May 17.
If SB 1297 is passed into law soon, it will also extend the deadline for people to make tax credit contributions to charities helping the poor and foster children, as well as school tuition organizations. Essentially this means that Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul, and our Catholic school tuition organizations, will have an extra month to get tax credit donations from people who did not make them last year when they are filing this year’s taxes.
These organizations have done much to help the needy in our communities, especially during the pandemic, and this measure, if passed, will better help them provide services to even more vulnerable people.
If you want to stay up to date on these bills, and other legislative matters of importance to the Catholic Church in Arizona, please visit www.azcatholicconference.org and make sure that you are signed up to receive these updates.