Mandated Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse

Published on July 13th, 2020

Memorandum: No Objection

A.6662-B Wallace
Re: Extension of Mandated Reporting Requirements to Clergy

The above-referenced legislation would add clergy to the list of professions that are required to report suspected cases of child sexual abuse. This is a noble goal, which the Bishops of New York State have long supported.

We had previously indicated opposition to an earlier draft of this legislation because it did not protect the sacred, inviolable seal of the confessional. With the recent amendment, this concern has been resolved, and we therefore remove our opposition and have no objection to this latest print.

Child sexual abuse is a societal scourge affecting nearly every sector of society. The Catholic Church has been shaken to its core by the scandal of abuse by members of the clergy. In 2002, the Catholic Church in the United State adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. A key element of the charter is a requirement to promptly report suspected cases of child abuse to law enforcement.

In the spirit of that Charter, the Catholic Bishops of New York State have long supported adding clergy to the mandated reporter list. Legislation has been introduced over the past two decades that would accomplish this goal. Despite some erroneous public reports, we have never opposed mandated reporter legislation in prior years, and, in fact, believe the requirements on all reporters should be more robust than current law.

We are pleased and grateful that the sponsor has recognized our one concern regarding the Sacrament of Confession and amended the bill accordingly, mirroring language the Assembly has considered in past years.