We are accustomed to hearing complaints about how the Church interferes with the State in ways that are democratically unacceptable. Mind you, when the Church even so much as comments on some political development that strays over into morality it is still accused on occasion of violating Church/State separation. This is how extreme some secularists are.
What we hear rather less about is the way in which the State can interfere with the Church. For example, in Britain publicly-funded Catholic adoption agencies have been told to accept adoption applications from same-sex couples or face the consequences. The consequence in several cases has been closure.
Now, in the US state of Connecticut we are faced with one of the most extreme breaches of Church/State separation seen in a democratic country in a long time. There is a Bill currently before Connecticut politicians which would remove the financial running of parishes from clergy and give it to parish councils.
Ostensibly this is in response to an incident in which a priest stole $1.4 million from a parish in Connecticut. But proper response to this isn’t for the state to force priests to relinquish control over parish finances, but for parishes to ensure proper safeguards are in place to prevent the theft of funds. These safeguards could easily be made a part of canon law.
To do otherwise is a completely unacceptable attack on the right of a religious organisation to organise its internal affairs more or less as it sees fit.
But in fact it would seem that there is a whole other reason behind this proposal by Democrats Michael Lawlor and Andrew McDonald. The two are supporters of same-sex marriage and according to Bridgeport Bishop William Lori the Bill is a “thinly veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.”
Of course, handing control of parish funds to parish councils would not silence the Church in itself, but it amounts to a warning to the Church to behave itself or face more interference in its affairs in the future.