I’ve long railed against the anti-Catholicism that runs ever so close to the surface in Virginia politics. Sometimes it bubbles up, and in Steve Shannon’s failing campaign to be the next Attorney General of Virginia, it just came to the forefront.
Case in point, his last-ditch attack ad against Ken Cuccinelli:
See that line: “Against Requiring Clergy to Report Child Molestation”? The bill? SB 314 on third reading, 01/29/2004. Go ahead, check it out yourself.
That bill passed 22-17 in the Senate and was killed in House Committee by a vote of 10-12. The problem with the bill isn’t just the fact that federal courts have upheld the “seal of confession” for Catholic priests, the problem is that the attack on Cuccinelli just ain’t true.
Don’t believe me? Read the amendment Cuccinelli offered in the Senate:
D. Any regular minister, priest, rabbi or duly accredited practitioner over the age of 18 years of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church who has reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected by another regular minister, priest, rabbi or duly accredited practitioner shall report the matter immediately to the local department or to the Department’s toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline in accordance with the provisions of subsection A. This subsection shall not apply to (i) information required by the doctrine of the religious organization or denomination to be kept in a confidential manner or (ii) information that would be subject to § 8.01-400 or § 19.2-271.3 if offered as evidence in court.
What this amendment allowed was a process that would permit the suspicion of child abuse to be reported by clergy that would not break the seal of confession in the instance of Catholic priests. Not only did Cuccinelli remain sensitive to the “seal of confession” — he refused to let it end there and moved legislatively to correct any sort of loophole, thus requiring clergy to report instances of child abuse and neglect. Did these facts sway Shannon? Not a bit… but they sure do make for great political cannon fodder for those who refuse to read the bill or the debate that ensued.
Here’s the kicker: This anti-Catholic attack ad comes just days after Steve Shannon refused to fill out the Virginia Catholic Conference survey — joining the Deeds, Wagner, and 40 other state Democrats who tossed aside the questionnaire.
Anti-Catholic hate? I see it, and 642,000 other Catholic Virginians tired of being kicked are seeing it too.