Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Popes Lawlor and McDonald Kill Bill, Archbishop Blumenthal Assists

The co-chairs of the state's judiciary committee, Andrew McDonald and Michael Lawlor, have killed the hearing during which Raised Bill No. 1098 was to be discussed, leaving behind in their wake a series of questions not yet answered.

There are jarring conflicting reports concerning the writing of Raised Bill No. 1098, which strips bishops and archbishops of their rights under canon law to direct the financial affairs of their parishes.

The Journal Inquirer quoted from a statement written by Lawlor, co-chair of the judiciary committee:

“’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,’ the statement continued. ‘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.’”

The statement gives the impression that the published bill was in fact written by members of the Darien church?

Bills are usually mocked up by staffers and approved by committee chairs.

It would not have been unlikely for the co-chairs to pass the written bill under the nose of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

The chairs have in the past solicited opinions on proposed legislation from Blumenthal, who was involved in the passage of previous legislation supported by the co-chairs that gave gays in Connecticut the right to form quasi-marriage partnerships. The bishops of the Catholic Church at the time opposed such measures on religious grounds.

The co-chairs also were involved in earlier efforts, ultimately successful, to force Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B pills to patients, a measure also opposed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which then regarded the Plan B pills as abortifacients in some instances. Plan B proponents insisted that Plan B was a simple contraceptive.

It is this earlier tousle between Catholic clergy and the co-chairs of the judiciary committee, both of whom are gay, that was, in the opinion of Bishop Lori, the animating factor that induced the two co-chairs to promulgate a bill that strips bishops and arch bishops of their authority to regulate the funds of their church in a manner that allows the church to fulfill its mandate.

In a separate story, the Journal Inquirer reported: “Thomas Gallagher, a parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church in Greenwich, and Paul Lakeland, director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, both confirmed they had asked the committee leaders late Monday to postpone Wednesday’s public hearing on the bill.

“’My little idea was to simply add a few more lay trustees’ to parish finance boards by amending the state’s Religious Corporation Act, Gallagher said.

“The measure prepared by committee leaders expanded lay representation on such boards but also excluded pastors, bishops, and other clergy from being voting members of such boards.

“’It goes too far and has never been a part of my vision of possible changes,’ Gallagher added. ‘We lay Catholics want a closer, co-fiduciary relationship with our pastors and bishops with respect to the temporal affairs of our parishes.’”

It might be nice if some enterprising reporter got a straight answer to the following questions:

Who is responsible for the form and substance of the published Bill?

Did McDonald or Lawlor or any staff member associated with the Judiciary Committee or any intermediary discuss this bill with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal or any member of his staff or an intermediary before the bill was published or during the bill’s publication or after the controversy that induced the co-chairs of the judiciary committee to kill the hearing on the bill?
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