I was wondering, in order to keep the seal of confession, can a priest tell a lie? As I understand it, a priest cannot even hint at what he heard in the confessional, so if he was faced with a situation where even keeping silent would arouse a suspicion, could he lie in order to “not give anything away”?
Could he say “I don’t know what you are talking about?” if asked for example “did my wife confess that she has cheated on me?”
If she had, then the priest would be lying, so would this be a sin?
I am not sure it would be considered a sin. The ‘I know nothing’ of a priest is protecting the seal of the confessional. Breaking the seal would be a very grave sin. A priest is morally obliged to keep the seal of the confessional, it cannot be a sin, if he is doing what he is supposed to do.
First of all, if somebody confesses behind the screen, how will the priest know who the penitent is in the first place?
Secondly, in conversations I’ve had with various priests over the years, they all have told me that they honestly don’t remember anybody’s confession after the person leaves. More than one has told me that they consider it a grace.
So it is very likely that a priest could honestly tell the suspicious husband, “Your wife came to confession? I don’t remember one way or the other.”