The Maryland Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, including the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington. We offer this testimony on behalf of the three (arch)diocesan cemetery managers, who oversee the operation of the more than 110 Catholic religious cemeteries located in the state, some of which date back to the 17th century with the first landing in Saint Mary’s County. As one can imagine, maintaining the sacred grounds of the Church for more than three centuries is challenging, and not the least of these concerns is care and maintenance of very old monuments.
As amended, Senate Bill 50 clarifies that a cemetery operator may perform this work as needed in order to keep their grounds safe and attractive. Providing for the sacred grounds of the Church and the safety of our visitors is paramount to our ministry. Often in the oldest cemeteries the monuments are aging and need repair, such as when masonry in the joints of a monument has deteriorated or the ground has shifted, causing a monument to lean. Currently, we provide this service as part of the continued care we provide and absorb the expense for these repairs through each cemetery’s general operating income.
Regardless of the cause, the Church has a moral duty to re-establish without delay a safe and respectful environment for our families to visit. As amended, Senate Bill 50 allows us to perform necessary repairs to maintain a safe cemetery property in a timely manner.
For these reasons, we urge a favorable report on Senate Bill 50.