The proposed bill "directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our faith," according to Archbishop Henry Mansell in Hartford.
He said it would force "a radical reorganization of the legal, financial and administrative structures of our parishes."
In Bristol on Sunday, and maybe all over the state, priests read a letter from Archbishop Henry Mansell calling for opposition to the move. Buses are set to roll to Hartford on Wednesday to bring a crowd to beat down Senate Bill 1098.
Here's an example of the angry opposition that's flared up.
Connecticut Local Politics has the story. So does The Connecticut Post and The New Haven Register. It's an important one.
Update at 11:40 a.m. --
State Republican Chairman Chris Healy just sent this:
Lawlor's Holy Way Against Catholics
HARTFORD - Legislation proposed by the Democratic chairmen of the Judiciary Committee is a brazen affront to the Roman Catholic Church and speaks to their desire to have the state dictate policy and procedure to people of faith, according to Republican State Party Chairman Chris Healy Monday.
"Democrats have crossed the line between church and state," said Healy. " Mike Lawlor and Andrew McDonald are now saying that the state knows best when it comes to being church member and ever citizen of Connecticut, no matter what faith, should be frightened by this legislation.
Committee bill 1098, which will be heard at a public hearing on Wednesday, would require that each Roman Catholic church's governing body be comprised of between seven and 13 lay people and that the Archdiocese would have an solely advisory role. These lay councils would have complete control over the operations of each church or organization.
"Many people throughout Connecticut, including those who are not of the Catholic faith should be very concerned at this power play by the Democrats," said Healy.
"There seems to be no limit to the arrogance of power by the Democrats. Now, with a $6 billion short fall, with people losing their jobs and homes, Rep. Lawlor wants to take over the Catholic Church over the management of a parish's money. How can anyone who has spent the state of Connecticut near bankruptcy now support fiscal control over religious institutions?"
Healy said many people might think the legislative proposal is a mistake or simply a result of a request from a legislator who is doing it as a request from the constituent.
"This bill is a committee bill and would only see the light of day with the support and blessing of its leadership," said Healy. "Now, it seems clear that Democratic Party in Connecticut believes the state of Connecticut should be deciding how are churches are run."
Update at 3 p.m. --
STATEMENT OF JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CO-CHAIRMEN
SENATOR ANDREW J. MCDONALD (D-STAMFORD) AND
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE LAWLOR (D-EAST HAVEN)
REGARDING PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE RELIGIOUS CORPORATIONS ACT:
“It has been incorrectly characterized that this legislation originated from the two of us as an attack on the church and freedom of religion. That is not the truth, and the facts do not support such a claim.
“In reality, this bill was proposed and written by a group of faithful Catholic parishioners from Fairfield County who asked the Judiciary Committee to consider giving the subject a public hearing. Especially considering the fact that one of the large-scale embezzlements which gave rise to this proposal originated from a parish corporation in Darien, a town that Senator McDonald represents, we decided to give these parishioners a chance to present to the Judiciary Committee a case for their proposed revisions to existing corporate law.
“A lot of misinformation has been spread about this proposal, and we ourselves are still learning exactly what its impact would be. We are keeping an open mind to what these parishioners have to say about their church, and we respectfully ask that others give them the courtesy of listening to their proposed changes in the existing state law governing Roman Catholic corporations.
“We ourselves are questioning certain aspects of their proposal and even the constitutionality of the current law. Despite what has been portrayed, we have not endorsed nor are advocating for this proposal.”
The following link contains the current state laws governing religious corporations, which includes individual provisions relating to the Protestant Episcopal Church, Methodist Church, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lutheran Church in America, and the Roman Catholic Church: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/pub/chap598.htm.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at email@example.com