Can a priest require you turn yourself into the police as penance ?

I read in a book that a priest may not make a person, say who confesses to murder, turn himself into the police as his penance. This book was spiritual in nature, non-fiction, and was written by a Catholic priest.

However, a couple years ago I was in an RCIA meeting with a person I was sponsoring and our parish priest was asked if if he could require a murderer to turn himself in as his act of penance. The priest told us he could, When I tried to ask him to elaborate he shut me down.

So, what is the correct answer ?

Can. 980 If the confessor is in no doubt about the penitent’s disposition and the penitent asks for absolution, it is not to be denied or delayed.

Can. 983 §1 The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.

Can. 984 §1. A confessor is prohibited completely from using knowledge acquired from confession to the detriment of the penitent even when any danger of revelation is excluded.

To require that someone turn himself in to the police would be to require him to reveal his confession to a third party. While the sinner is free to do so if he chooses, to require it would appear to be the equivalent of the priest revealing the contents of the confession via a secondary source. In light of canon 984, the priest only knows who the murderer is based on the confession. To require the penitent to turn himself in to the police would be to use that information to the detriment of the penitent. And if the absolution is essentially conditional upon this requirement it would seem to also violate canon 980. If someone is not sufficiently contrite the confessor can simply withhold absolution. If the penitent is sufficiently contrite the priest can most certainly encourage him to turn himself in to the police but to require someone to reveal their confession to another would violate canon law.

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