If my priest, as part of my penance, orders me to divulge my sin to someone outside of the confessional, what am I to make of this? I am under the impression that whatever is said in a confessional should stay there. Is the confession valid if I do not do it?
Return to the priest and ask him to clarify what he said. Maybe you mis-understood. Could he have said anything of restitution ? .
I think if the sin involves an illegal action, the priest will urge the penitent to confess the crime to the police. Not saying that’s the case here but it just shows that true repentance sometimes involves making things right in more ways than just restitution.
The priest cannot order you to reveal any of your sins to another party. Your situation has no bearing on the validity of the absolution. A PP advised you to ask the priest to clarify; I concur. If he did indeed instruct (not urge) you to reveal a sin to another, I would advise you to talk to another priest about it.
Did this actually happen to you, or are you just speaking hypothetically?
This was my initial thought. It would be more a matter of encouragement than an actual penance.
I did once have a priest give me a penance that went against personal conscience. I will not go into detail regarding the penance. The first thing I did was talk to my confessor about why I could not perform the penance as requested. I next made an appointment with my pastor regarding the matter. An alternate penance can be requested.
If another person was harmed, the priest may ask the penitent to take the initial steps necessary to seek reconciliation. This process could involve revealing the sin committed. If a person broke a window, for instance, he could be asked to take responsiblity and pay for the damage. :twocents:
I am sort of speaking hypothetically, but I did have a similar situation happen in the past and was just curious about how to handle it in the future.
Another side question though: What is the role of penance in the absolution process? Am I forgiven before I do my penance, or not until after? Also, I did have a situation once where I left the confessional and completely forgot to do my penance. Was I forgiven in that instance?
I have seen this answered elsewhere, but can’t remember where. Basically the seal of confession forbids the priest to do anything which would reveal the matter confessed. This definitely includes any requirement that the penitent reveal the sin.
He may require restitution or reparation, but only if it is possible without revealing the sin. For example, if stolen money cannot be returned without admitting the sin, he might require that one contribute the money to charity.
Sins are forgiven at the moment of absolution. The penance should be performed as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of forgetting. Deliberately failing to perform a penance is a new sin which must be confessed. If the penance has not been performed by the time of ones next confession this should be confessed, and explained if there is reasonable cause for the delay.
It is not a grave sin.