Attack on Confession
#1
Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Australia said that he would go to jail rather than obey a law requiring him to divulge the contents of a sacramental confession.
The archbishop was responding to a recommendation from the royal commission on sexual abuse, which had urged Australian states to implement new laws requiring priests to disclose reports of sexual abuse that they heard in confessions.
Archbishop Hart stressed that the Church could not accept such legislation. “I believe that this is an absolutely sacrosanct communication of the highest order,” he said. He added that he would “go to extreme lengths outside the confessional” to ensure that sexual abuse is reported to proper authorities.
A popular priest of the Melbourne archdiocese promptly contradicted the archbishop’s stand, calling for a “redefinition of the confessional seal.” Father Bob Maguire said: “Everything should be resubmitted in the post-modern age.” He added: “I want the bishops and the royal commission to tell me what to do.”

https://www.catholicculture.org/news/hea...ryid=32373

I don't want anyone to repeat what I said in confession. 
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#2
A Louisiana judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that revolves around a priest’s refusal to report sexual abuse that was disclosed in a confession.
The plaintiff, Rebecca Mayeux, has sued Father Jeff Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge, saying that the priest should have reported to authorities when she (Mayeux) told him that she had been abused. Father Bayhi, citing the absolute secrecy of the confessional, has said that he cannot testify about what he was told—or even confirm that he heard Mayeux’s confession.
The case has already been before the Louisiana Supreme Court, which upheld the confessional seal in a ruling last year, saying that Father Bayhi cannot be required to testify about what he heard in a confession. However, the plaintiff’s lawyers argue the Mayeux’s encounter with the priest was not a sacramental confession but an appeal for help.
In a ruling announced on August 21, Judge Mike Caldwell said that a Baton Rouge jury could be asked to determine whether or not, when Mayeux spoke to Father Bayhi, their conversation was in the context of a confession.

https://www.catholicculture.org/news/hea...ryid=32425
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#3
In recent years, some Catholics have been concerned by pushes from governments in locations such as Louisiana and Australia who challenge the secrecy of the sacrament of confession, asking that priests betray the solemnity of penitents’ confessions when they hear of serious crimes in the confessional.
However, Catholics should not be afraid, because keeping the secrecy of the sacrament of confession is one of the most important promises priests make.
The code of canon law states that “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” Priests who violate this seal of confession are automatically excommunicated.
Priests take this solemnity of the seal of confession very seriously; these four priests who died protecting it are witnesses to the extreme lengths to which priests are willing to go to protect the seal of confession.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/t...ion-44847/
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#4
St. John Nepomucene

Born in Bohemia, or what is now the Czech Republic, between 1340 and 1350,  St. John Nepomucene was an example of the protection of sacramental secrecy, being the first martyr who preferred to die rather than reveal the secret of confession. 

When he was Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Prague, the now- saint servedas confessor of Sofia of Bavaria, the wife of King Wenceslaus. The king, who had infamous outbursts of anger and jealousy, ordered the priest to reveal the sins of his wife. The saint's refusal infuriated Wenceslaus, who threatened to kill the priest if he did not tell him his wife’s secrets.

King Wenceslaus and John Nepomucene came into conflict again when the monarch wanted to seize a convent in order to take its wealth and give it to a relative. The saint prohibited its seizure because those goods belonged to the Church.
Filled with rage, the king ordered the torture of the saint, whose body was then thrown to the Vltava River in 1393.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/t...ion-44847/

My understanding is that the king wanted to know if his wife was cheating on him. Was she? We will never know, because St. John Nepomucene wouldn't tell. 
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#5
Wink 
We have a statue of St John Nepomuk in our Church which is dedicated to, ironically, St Wenceslaus (Sv. Vaclav in Czech).However, St Wenceslaus is NOT the Wenceslaus in the story!
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#6
(08-23-2017, 12:03 AM)Poche Wrote: A Louisiana judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that revolves around a priest’s refusal to report sexual abuse that was disclosed in a confession.

The plaintiff, Rebecca Mayeux, has sued Father Jeff Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge, saying that the priest should have reported to authorities when she (Mayeux) told him that she had been abused. Father Bayhi, citing the absolute secrecy of the confessional, has said that he cannot testify about what he was told—or even confirm that he heard Mayeux’s confession.

The case has already been before the Louisiana Supreme Court, which upheld the confessional seal in a ruling last year, saying that Father Bayhi cannot be required to testify about what he heard in a confession. However, the plaintiff’s lawyers argue the Mayeux’s encounter with the priest was not a sacramental confession but an appeal for help.

In a ruling announced on August 21, Judge Mike Caldwell said that a Baton Rouge jury could be asked to determine whether or not, when Mayeux spoke to Father Bayhi, their conversation was in the context of a confession.

This story has been around for a while, and actually does show the proper limits of "the seal", and the value of anonymous (i.e. not face-to-face) confession for women. 

If someone comes to Confession seeking absolution (even if it must be refused), then it is confession and everything said in the context of that confession is under the seal. It would be a grave sin and an automatic excommunication for a priest to directly violate that seal.

The penitent, however, can violate the seal (since it's his confession), or give the priest permission to divulge confessional matters.

The very fact of someone coming to confession is not usually under the seal. It is generally a public fact, since typically in a church in possible plain view of others one goes into the box. If there were special circumstances in which the very fact of going to confession was unable to be known by others, the priest could consider this a professional secret, which is protected by law (but is still not under the seal).

So, in a normal case, without violating the seal, he could confirm that she confessed to him if he remembered it.

In such a civil suit the priest could legitimately be put on the stand and be asked if she confessed. Unless there were special circumstances, he would have to answer truthfully, if he remembered the confession. When asked about the contents of that confession he could legitimately say, "I don't know," even if he clearly remembered what she confessed. This is a mental reservation meaning "In my capacity as a witness here in court, I do not know what she confessed". The court does not have the authority to ask him to testify in his capacity as confessor, so he can only answer in his capacity as a witness (in which case he does not know the contents of the confession).

In reality, she has probably given enough of a permission for the priest to divulge the confession by arguing that it was not confession. He can choose not to take that permission to protect the dignity of the sacrament in public view.

If I were the defense attorney for the priest, this would be an easy case, since she will have to testify. She isn't bound by the seal, and the priest himself, does not have to testify. She could be asked if she confessed, if she went in to confess sins, and if she was given absolution for what she confessed. If she says yes to any of these, the case is over. It's confession, and thus under the seal.

Another priest or canon lawyer could be called to testify to this fact, so the priest in question never has to testify.
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#7
St. Mateo Correa Magallanes
Saint Mateo Correa Magallanes was another martyr of the seal of confession. He was shot in Mexico during the Cristero War for refusing to reveal the confessions of prisoners rebelling against the Mexican government.
He was born in Tepechitlán in the state of Zacateca on July 22, 1866 and was ordained a priest in 1893. Fr. Matteo served as chaplain in various towns and parishes and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
In 1927, the priest was arrested by Mexican army forces under General Eulogio Ortiz. A few days later, the general sent Father Correa to hear the confessions group of people who were to be shot. After Fr. Mateo finished administering the sacrament, the general then demanded that the priest reveal what he had heard.
Fr. Mateo responded with a resounding “no” and was executed. Currently, his remains are venerated in the Cathedral of Durango.
He was beatified Nov. 22, 1992 and canonized by St. John Paul II May 21, 2000.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/t...ion-44847/
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