The California Senate voted 30-2 today on legislation, Senate Bill 360, that would force priests to disclose information concerning the sexual abuse of minors that they hear in confession.

The California bishops have been urging lawmakers to strengthen and clarify mandated reporting requirements while maintaining the traditional protections for “penitential communications.”

But the bill voted out of the Senate today now protects the seal of the confessional — except in cases where a priest is hearing another priest’s confession or in cases where a priest is hearing the confession of a co-worker.

In response to today’s vote, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles issued the following statement:

I am deeply disappointed with today’s Senate vote on SB 360. I continue to believe we can strengthen mandated reporting laws to protect children’s safety while at the same time preserving the sanctity of penitential communications. My brother bishops and I will continue to work with our lawmakers in the Assembly and I urge Catholics to continue to pray and make your voices heard on this issue, which is so vital to our faith and religious freedom. Please go the California Catholic Conference website and write to your Assembly member today.

For background on the bill, see this AngelusNews analysis and Archbishop Gomez’s piece “Confession is sacred.”