Confession and confidentiality


#1

Hello,

Well I’m new around here and have been reading a lot but I have a question about confession. How specific do you have to be in confession? Do you worry that the priest will recognize your voice and therefore “know your business”? I mean if you tell him all your sins and then see him in church, does it make you uncomfortable? Also, do priests talk amongst themselves about it? Think they trade stories and whatnot, or are they forbidden to talk about it? I saw an episode of Law and Order (I think it was) where they forced a priest to testify. I had always thought it was like the lawyer/client or doctor/patient priviledge. I can’t imagine the burden that must be lifted after confession, but maybe I’m a little squeamish about opening myself up like that to someone. Thanks for all your help in this…


#2

[quote=Hugh Betcha]Hello,

Well I’m new around here and have been reading a lot but I have a question about confession. How specific do you have to be in confession? Do you worry that the priest will recognize your voice and therefore “know your business”? I mean if you tell him all your sins and then see him in church, does it make you uncomfortable? Also, do priests talk amongst themselves about it? Think they trade stories and whatnot, or are they forbidden to talk about it? I saw an episode of Law and Order (I think it was) where they forced a priest to testify. I had always thought it was like the lawyer/client or doctor/patient priviledge. I can’t imagine the burden that must be lifted after confession, but maybe I’m a little squeamish about opening myself up like that to someone. Thanks for all your help in this…
[/quote]

He cannot tell your sins to anyone. Priests are bound by the Seal of Confession.
newadvent.org/cathen/13649b.htm

I know the priest knows its me. I’m usually first in line and I’m there before he gets there so he sees me before he goes in to the confessional. It’s not a big deal. I’m sure nothing I have to confess he hasn’t heard before. Plus, it’s his job and I doubt he really keeps track. I mean, you gotta check your pride at the door (one reason why confession is better than just asking God), but its really no big deal.

As for details, all you have to say is type of sin and how many times. be blunt but there’s no need to give all the sordid details. If the priest needs more details he’ll ask. Hope that helps!


#3

No priest may disclose any aspect of anyone’s confession to anyone for any reason (the priest is not even permitted to speak to YOU about your confession at a later date - even minutes afterward). Some priests have been tortured to death, but under no circumstances is it ever permissible to disclose (or take action on) what is said in confession.

I’m not sure exactly what the position of US law is in this regard, but it does enjoy some sort of priviliged status. I remember a case here in Oregon where a priest visited an inmate in jail and was talking to him behind glass using a telephone-type intercomm. Unknown to the priest, all such communication is recorded. When this was discovered, the Catholic Church petitioned the Court that this recording be destroyed (though the prosecution wanted to listen to the tapes), and the judge ruled in favor of the Church.

Even if a priest were ordered by a judge (or King or even Pope) to reveal the contents of a confession, he must not comply.

Priests may, however, sometimes speak in general terms for pastoral reasons (ie, "I’m hearing more people confessing internet sins these days - what can we do to help people avoid this sin?’), but even this makes most priests uncomfortable and they would only do this with good cause (not in idle gossip).

Some people are uncomfortable knowing that the priest knows. I used to be, but I got over it. If it bothers you, go to a different church for confession. It’s better to confess to a stranger than avoid confession alltogether.


#4

[quote=Hugh Betcha]Hello,

Well I’m new around here and have been reading a lot but I have a question about confession. How specific do you have to be in confession? Do you worry that the priest will recognize your voice and therefore “know your business”? I mean if you tell him all your sins and then see him in church, does it make you uncomfortable? Also, do priests talk amongst themselves about it? Think they trade stories and whatnot, or are they forbidden to talk about it? I saw an episode of Law and Order (I think it was) where they forced a priest to testify. I had always thought it was like the lawyer/client or doctor/patient priviledge. I can’t imagine the burden that must be lifted after confession, but maybe I’m a little squeamish about opening myself up like that to someone. Thanks for all your help in this…
[/quote]

I personally don’t worry about whether a Priest recognizes my voice or not, and believe me when I say that in my past there have been some whoppers that I’ve had to confess to. If I ever did have that fear, I would simply go to another parish to make my confession. That way I could be sure that the Priest didn’t know me.
As for your question concerning whether Priests talk amongst themselves or are allowed to discuss confessions with others… No, they cannot. Moreover, if you think that the lawyer/client privilege is tough; Priests have to answer to a much higher authority than the state bar.:slight_smile:
God bless.


#5

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