November 17, 2005

Church Financial Disclosure Bill Hits Snag


BOSTON -- A bill requiring religious organizations to disclose their finances ran into opposition in the House after leaders of smaller religious denominations said they feared becoming "collateral damage" in the Roman Catholic church's clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The bill was set to be debated by the House on Wednesday, the last scheduled day of formal debate for the year, but at the last minute the vote was put off.

Backers of the bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate last week, said religious groups should be held to the same reporting requirements as other public charities.

They argued that financial secrecy helped the Catholic church in Massachusetts hide the burgeoning clergy sexual abuse scandal, even as church officials shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.

But representatives of smaller religious organizations say the bill violates the constitutional separation between church and state and unfairly sweeps them into the middle of a dispute between the Catholic church and disgruntled parishioners.

Posted by kshaw at November 17, 2005 11:32 AM