In what smacks of legislative abuse with the purpose of intimidating a sector of the community, the Connecticut legislature Joint Committee on the Judiciary has 'put on the fast track' a bill to restructure the financial aspects of ONLY CATHOLIC dioceses, effectively making them 'congregationalist'!
On Thursday, March 5, a bill was introduced in the Connecticut state legislature, and immediately referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. It targets one – and only one – church in the state, the Catholic Church, and would strip the bishops and priests of the state of any power to exercise administrative authority over their parishes.
Raised Bill No. 1098 is a committee bill and does not bear the names of any individual sponsors. Both co-chairmen of the committee, State Sen. Andrew McDonald and State Rep. Michael Lawlor, are outspoken proponents of same-sex marriage in Connecticut and have been critical of the Catholic Church’s opposition to both civil unions and same-sex marriage.
The stated purpose of the bill is to “provide for the investigation of the misappropriation of funds by religious corporations,” but it deals only with the corporate structure of the Catholic Church. No other church is mentioned, or would be subject to the bill’s requirements.
The measure has been put on a legislative fast track, with hearings scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, less than a week after its introduction. Knights of Columbus, and all concerned Connecticut Catholics, are encouraged to attend the hearing that day and express their opposition to the bill. They may also call or write the committee co-chairmen, State Sen. Andrew McDonald (800-842-1420 or McDonald@senatedems.ct.gov), and State Rep. Michael Lawlor (800-842-8267 or MLawlor99@juno.com.
Philip Lacovara(Senior Counsel, Mayer Brown, LLP):
...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 than 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....
...I'm going to focus on Senate Bill 1098 -- "An Act Modifying Corporate Laws Relating to Certain Religious Institutions." The stated purpose of this bill is "to revise the corporate governance provisions applicable to the Roman Catholic Church and provide for the investigation of the misappropriation of funds by religious corporations." The real purpose of this bill is payback to the bishops and pastors of the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut for opposing gay marriage.
Unfortunately, I think some well-intentioned, unhappy Catholics from Darien are being used as pawns by Senator McDonald and Representative Lawlor in a thinly-veiled attack on the Church....
It goes to prove the atmosphere of totalitarian power amongst liberal lobby groups, that they feel no shame in putting forward such a bill, and even seem to have an expectation of success with it.
It occurs to me, that if not entirely serious as a bill, it still serves to use up Catholic resources that have been recently put to use fighting other legislation that endangers the good of the people.
Could this be a cynical strategy to 'busy' the Catholics? More to come, no doubt...but the liberals may learn a few things about the Catholic heart, and its willingness to sacrifice for love of God and neighbour.
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.