The Seal of Confession
#1
A priest is never allowed to disclose what he heard in a sacramental confession, Vatican officials emphasized in talks during a conference this week on the confessional seal.

The applies even after the penitent dies, said Msgr. Krzysztof Nykiel, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The seal is absolute, Msgr. Nykiel said; it cannot be broken if the penitent gives his permission to the confessor.

Any violation of the confessional seal is punished with excommunication, participants in the Vatican conference were reminded. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who heads the Apostolic Penitentiary, said that Church law on this question has remained unchanged for 800 years—except insofar as it has occasionally been tightened, answering all new questions by affirming the absolute bar to revealing confessed sins.

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/head...ryid=23228
Reply
#2


According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, conference participants heard that since the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 spelled out the penalties in church law for violating the secret of the confessional, “the discipline of the church in this matter has remained substantially the same,” with the exception of additional protections.

One of those additions, the newspaper said, was a 1988 church law explicitly stating that using an “electronic apparatus” to record, broadcast or otherwise share the contents of a confession also is an excommunicable offense.

http://superiorcatholicherald.org/news/n...cials-say/
Reply
#3
I wonder how this is reconciled with the many stories we have of saints which we learn from their confessors about events during confession or spiritual direction.
Reply
#4
The seal of the confession applies to the priest, an interpreter if there is one, and to anybody who happens to overhear what is said in the confessional. The seal does not apply to the penitent himself. Many times we learn of these things because the penitant chooses to reveal them.   
Reply
#5
(11-14-2014, 02:02 AM)Poche Wrote: The seal is absolute, Msgr. Nykiel said; it cannot be broken if the penitent gives his permission to the confessor.

This is odd.

The Catholic Encyclopedia summarises the correct doctrine nicely:
Quote:Regarding the sins revealed to him in sacramental confession, the priest is bound to inviolable secrecy. From this obligation he cannot be excused either to save his own life or good name, to save the life of another, to further the ends of human justice, or to avert any public calamity. No law can compel him to divulge the sins confessed to him, or any oath which he takes — e.g., as a witness in court. He cannot reveal them either directly — i.e., by repeating them in so many words — or indirectly — i.e., by any sign or action, or by giving information based on what he knows through confession. The only possible release from the obligation of secrecy is the permission to speak of the sins given freely and formally by the penitent himself. Without such permission, the violation of the seal of confession would not only be a grievous sin, but also a sacrilege.

Also, for general information, since many seem to be unaware of this, the following:

Quote:Even the penitent, according to some theologians, is bound to secrecy; but the more general opinion leaves him free; as he can authorize the confessor to speak of what he has confessed, he can also, of his own accord, speak to others. But he is obliged to take care that what he reveals shall cast no blame or suspicion on the confessor, since the latter cannot defend himself. In a word, it is more in keeping with the intention of the Church and with the reverence due to the sacrament that the penitent himself should refrain from speaking of his confession.

I have heard traditional Catholics talking about what they have confessed to a priest, and it can put the priest in a terrible situation.  We should never do it.  Treat the confessional seal as if you yourself were bound by it.
Reply
#6
Does anybody know to what degree a confessor cannot act on what they hear in confession?  Are they strictly obliged to forget everything they heard and even not let the confession reenter their mind if they see the penitent outside of confession?  I've wondered about this, how much the priest is thinking about me and my sins that I just confessed to him earlier.  Its probably scruples on my part, but I always wondered about this.  ???
Reply
#7
(11-15-2014, 12:20 AM)christulsa123 Wrote: Does anybody know to what degree a confessor cannot act on what they hear in confession?  Are they strictly obliged to forget everything they heard and even not let the confession reenter their mind if they see the penitent outside of confession?  I've wondered about this, how much the priest is thinking about me and my sins that I just confessed to him earlier.  Its probably scruples on my part, but I always wondered about this.  ???

The short answer is that the priest can't use knowledge he heard in confession. If someone confesses that he wired a bomb to the ignition of the priest's like in a mafia movie, the priest must insist the person deactivate the bomb, but if the person refuses, the priest still has to go and get in the car and turn they key like on any other day. But it wouldn't be wrong for the priest to use information he heard in confession as a reason to do more research on a question he didn't know the answer to, or as a reason to be more kind or patient to the penitent outside confession, or to pray privately for the penitent.

In practice, I think most priests can easily compartmentalize between confessional knowledge and other knowledge. The context of the confessional is so radically different from regular life that it's not hard to keep the two separate. As far as whether your priest thinks about your sins in his free time, or even when he sees you in person — incredibly unlikely. The priest hears hundreds of sins from all kinds of people, and they're not that much different from each other, so unless your sins are extremely unusual, like habitually worshiping a stone idol in your back yard, or attempting to sell indulgences on eBay, or performing contract assassinations, then I can safely answer your question with a "no".  :grin:
Reply
#8
(11-15-2014, 05:34 PM)Fr Larrabee Wrote:
(11-15-2014, 12:20 AM)christulsa123 Wrote: Does anybody know to what degree a confessor cannot act on what they hear in confession?  Are they strictly obliged to forget everything they heard and even not let the confession reenter their mind if they see the penitent outside of confession?  I've wondered about this, how much the priest is thinking about me and my sins that I just confessed to him earlier.  Its probably scruples on my part, but I always wondered about this.  ???

The short answer is that the priest can't use knowledge he heard in confession. If someone confesses that he wired a bomb to the ignition of the priest's like in a mafia movie, the priest must insist the person deactivate the bomb, but if the person refuses, the priest still has to go and get in the car and turn they key like on any other day. But it wouldn't be wrong for the priest to use information he heard in confession as a reason to do more research on a question he didn't know the answer to, or as a reason to be more kind or patient to the penitent outside confession, or to pray privately for the penitent.

In practice, I think most priests can easily compartmentalize between confessional knowledge and other knowledge. The context of the confessional is so radically different from regular life that it's not hard to keep the two separate. As far as whether your priest thinks about your sins in his free time, or even when he sees you in person — incredibly unlikely. The priest hears hundreds of sins from all kinds of people, and they're not that much different from each other, so unless your sins are extremely unusual, like habitually worshiping a stone idol in your back yard, or attempting to sell indulgences on eBay, or performing contract assassinations, then I can safely answer your question with a "no".  :grin:

Thanks for the reply, Father.  Wow, that was really helpful information. 
Reply
#9
(11-15-2014, 05:34 PM)Fr Larrabee Wrote:
(11-15-2014, 12:20 AM)christulsa123 Wrote: Does anybody know to what degree a confessor cannot act on what they hear in confession?  Are they strictly obliged to forget everything they heard and even not let the confession reenter their mind if they see the penitent outside of confession?  I've wondered about this, how much the priest is thinking about me and my sins that I just confessed to him earlier.  Its probably scruples on my part, but I always wondered about this.  ???

The short answer is that the priest can't use knowledge he heard in confession. If someone confesses that he wired a bomb to the ignition of the priest's like in a mafia movie, the priest must insist the person deactivate the bomb, but if the person refuses, the priest still has to go and get in the car and turn they key like on any other day. But it wouldn't be wrong for the priest to use information he heard in confession as a reason to do more research on a question he didn't know the answer to, or as a reason to be more kind or patient to the penitent outside confession, or to pray privately for the penitent.

because the mafia movies are hopefully far removed from reality,  but continuing with that specific case..  Could the priest call a mechanic to simply check out his car- "Hey mechanic, come look at my car, make sure everything looks as it should, just dont start it"?

or

could the priest then go look at his car himself, and if he sees something suspicious then call the authorities, (obviously he couldnt say what he knows regarding who put it there without breaking the seal)
Reply
#10
(11-16-2014, 03:52 PM)medievalman86 Wrote:
(11-15-2014, 05:34 PM)Fr Larrabee Wrote:
(11-15-2014, 12:20 AM)christulsa123 Wrote: Does anybody know to what degree a confessor cannot act on what they hear in confession?  Are they strictly obliged to forget everything they heard and even not let the confession reenter their mind if they see the penitent outside of confession?  I've wondered about this, how much the priest is thinking about me and my sins that I just confessed to him earlier.  Its probably scruples on my part, but I always wondered about this.  ???

The short answer is that the priest can't use knowledge he heard in confession. If someone confesses that he wired a bomb to the ignition of the priest's like in a mafia movie, the priest must insist the person deactivate the bomb, but if the person refuses, the priest still has to go and get in the car and turn they key like on any other day. But it wouldn't be wrong for the priest to use information he heard in confession as a reason to do more research on a question he didn't know the answer to, or as a reason to be more kind or patient to the penitent outside confession, or to pray privately for the penitent.

because the mafia movies are hopefully far removed from reality,  but continuing with that specific case..  Could the priest call a mechanic to simply check out his car- "Hey mechanic, come look at my car, make sure everything looks as it should, just dont start it"?

or

could the priest then go look at his car himself, and if he sees something suspicious then call the authorities, (obviously he couldnt say what he knows regarding who put it there without breaking the seal)

http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcoc...candle.jpg

Hmm, what would Fr. Logan say??  :)
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)