At least here in Wisconsin, ALL clergy are now eligible for the Covid vaccine because we are “part of health care personnel who provide spiritual care to the sick” (see link below). In an immediate sense, this is important not only to clergy personally but also our families and congregations.
It is also an acknowledgement by the state of Wisconsin of the work clergy do in caring for others. Understandably, many clergy were upset when we were told we couldn’t attend to our hospitalized parishioners. This was, for me at least, not an issue since (thank God), none of may parishioners were hospitalized.
At the same time, the inclusion of clergy now suggests that these earlier regulations, however heavy handed and tone deaf these earlier orders were, were not necessarily the result of a bias against religious believers.
Assuming good will of those who disagree with us is essential not only for those of us who represent Christ as priests, ministers, pastors and preachers, but as citizens committed to the common good and the ability of all Americans to live together peacefully.
For me at least the real question is this. How can clergy and elected officials work together to avoid a repeat of our earlier mutual misunderstanding?
WI DHS press release: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIGOV/bulletins/2c7691b
I’ve linked below to proposed Wisconsin Senate bill 382. If it were to become law, it would eliminate “from the reporting requirement the exception for information obtained through confidential communications.”
Current law provides that a member of the clergy is not required to report information relating to suspected or threatened sexual abuse of a child that he or she receives solely through confidential communications made to him or her privately or in a confessional setting if he or she is authorized to hear or is accustomed to hearing such communications and if, under the disciplines, tenets, or traditions of his or her religion, he or she has a duty or is expected to keep those communications secret. The bill eliminates from the reporting requirement the exception for information obtained through confidential communications.
However well-intentioned, this is an unjust infringement on religious liberty and represents an attack on the life of the Church. I would encourage all Wisconsin residents to contact their state legislators and the bills co-sponsors to protest this violation of both the US and Wisconsin constitutions. The bills’ co-sponsors can be found in the attached document.
Source: Wisconsin Legislature: SB382: Bill Text
Earlier this year, Wi State Representative Melissa Sargent of Madison, explained to a pastor what it REALLY meant to listen to Jesus. Now together with Reps. Chris Taylor and Sen. Lena Taylor, Sargent is presuming to intrude on the relationship between priest and penitent by requiring priests report allegations of child abuse that are heard in confession (see below).
There are a number of potential problems with the proposed legislation (which I haven’t read and can’t find on the Wisconsin statehouse website).
First, it’s an intrusion into the internal life of a religious community. The legislation re-defines for its own purposes the nature of confession.
Second, and following from this, the loss of confidentiality has a potential chilling effect on the priest/penitent relationship. In a global sense, if people think that the priest might reveal the content of their confessions to law enforcement they will likely be guarded in what they say to him.
Undermining priest/penitent can also harm the very people the bill seeks to protects: victims of sexual abuse. Requiring clergy to report what we hear in confession means that we would be legally obligated to violate the confidentiality of victims. Under these circumstances, it would not be unreasonable for a person who has been abuse to forgo speaking to his or her parish priest because of the credible fear that the priest would report the conversation to the State.
Third and finally, the bill seeks to punish clergy who have not violated our pastoral and moral responsibilities. Worse, innocent clergy AND penitents (including victims of sexual abuse) would have their rights curtailed because of the actions of others.
You can read more about the latest swipe at religious liberty here.
It’s going to be a long June for me here in Mad City. Why you ask, do I say this?
Because for the next month, people will talk about an issue of immense moral, social and political importance as if it were a professional sporting event. Really and truly, what of substance is accomplished by putting up a rainbow flag? This kind of virtue signaling is indicative of the immaturity of the activists.
Want to win the respect of your neighbor? Then doing something worthy of respect.
Here’s a hint. That ain’t putting up a flag advertising your allegiance to a cause most everyone in town supports or at least won’t publicly criticize.
You can read about the flag at the link under my signature.
The flag will be flown over the Capitol’s East Wing through June 30, which is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month.
Source: Rainbow pride flag flies over state Capitol for 1st time in Wisconsin history | Politics and Elections | madison.com