I had a recent discussion with some fellow Catholics and we got on the subject of a priest going to confession and I was told that when a priest goes to confession he has to announce to the priest hearing the confession that he is also a priest. I have never heard of that before. Is it true and if it is why is it necessary since a confession, any confession, is confidential and anonymous.
My understanding is that priests have their own confessors. Some diocese have a Preist-to-Priest program where they are somehow matched up. The purpose is to ensure the spiritual well being on a one-to-one basis, which probably includes confession, so anonymity would be redundant.
A priest who used to serve at our parish, to encourage his parishoners to go to confession, has said many times from the pulpit “you think it’s hard for you to go to confession? I have to confess to my friends!”
Confession (or the sacrament of Reconciliation) while always confidential, is not necessarily anonymous. When we have penitential services there aren’t enough closed confessionals for the crowd so we have to use the classrooms, just you and the priest face to face. It’s a little disconcerting at first but you get used to it.
While a certain confession time might not offer an anonymous option, all Catholics are provided by canon law the right to confess anonymously. If your parish, for example, only offers face-to-face options, that’s a violation.
I have been taught that all people are supposed to give their state of life in Confession. If you are married, you say so; if you are a priest, you say so; etc. This doesn’t change the anonymonity of the Confession. Even if you are in a diocese, as stated above, that “assigns” priests to other priests for spiritual direction, a priest couldn’t be restricted to going to Confession only to that brother priest.
My parish does not offer only face-to-face confession, it is offered as an option to waiting in long line-ups for the confessional. My point was only that confession doesn’t need to be anonymous, just confidential. You can do whatever is comfortable for you. As far as telling the priest your state of life, I don’t remember ever hearing that. I’ve never mentioned it when I go to confession and the priest has never asked.