Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 2, 2024 / 17:45 pm
Bishop Oscar Solis of the Diocese of Salt Lake City is urging lawmakers to protect the seal of confession when considering legislation that would change sex abuse reporting laws when the reporter is a member of clergy.
A proposed bill before the Utah Legislature would extend to members of the clergy the same legal protections when reporting sex abuse that are given to mandatory reporters. Essentially, the legislation would shield clergy from potential civil or criminal liability when reporting a potential abuser if he “reasonably believes that a child is the subject of ongoing abuse or neglect.”
Unlike similar proposals in 2020 and 2023, the bill would not make the priest a mandatory reporter and would not require the priest to report on information learned when hearing a confession. However, the protection from legal liability would extend to the priest if he were to do so.
Solis said the diocese, which encompasses the entirety of Utah, is not against this version of the bill. In his letter, the bishop discouraged lawmakers from altering the language in any way that would jeopardize the seal of confession.