Do pictures and videos of ongoing Confessions violate the Seal of Confession?


#1

Hey everyone. I have this question. Do pictures and videos of ongoing Confessions where you can clearly see the penitent and the confessor violate the seal of Confession? I am leaning towards no because the priest/bishop/pope is not actually telling who went to Confession but I am not 100% sure on this. I ask because there have been videos on Youtube showing Confessions going on at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.


#2

People seem to conflate the issue of the Seal and Anonymity.

The Seal of Confession does not require nor even stipulate anonymity. It's ok if people see you are in confession. Really, the videos and pictures of WYD in Rio are no different then if you were in that place and saw someone in confession. Or even if you were on your way to confession and were looking for an open "booth".

I believe the seal generally refers to revealing your sins. Like if a priest were to say "So-and-so confessed he had committed X sin". A priest saying "I have heard people confess " does not break the seal.

Breaking the seal means attaching a confessed sin to a name.


#3

[quote="curlycool89, post:2, topic:334318"]
People seem to conflate the issue of the Seal and Anonymity.

The Seal of Confession does not require nor even stipulate anonymity. It's ok if people see you are in confession. Really, the videos and pictures of WYD in Rio are no different then if you were in that place and saw someone in confession. Or even if you were on your way to confession and were looking for an open "booth".

I believe the seal generally refers to revealing your sins. Like if a priest were to say "So-and-so confessed he had committed X sin". A priest saying "I have heard people confess " does not break the seal.

Breaking the seal means attaching a confessed sin to a name.

[/quote]

Oh okay! Thank you for this clarification! I really appreciate it! :thumbsup:


#4

[quote="Holly3278, post:1, topic:334318"]
Hey everyone. I have this question. Do pictures and videos of ongoing Confessions where you can clearly see the penitent and the confessor violate the seal of Confession? I am leaning towards no because the priest/bishop/pope is not actually telling who went to Confession but I am not 100% sure on this. I ask because there have been videos on Youtube showing Confessions going on at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

[/quote]

Unless you can hear the voices or discern what is being said, no.

And I believe it is kind of improper to video the Sacrament of Reconcilation...

However, if by any chance you ever (in video or real life) hear or discern someone's sin while confessing, remember that the Seal of Confession also applies to you as much as to the priest ;)


#5

:thumbsup::thumbsup:


#6

Personally, I would never choose to go to Confession if I could be videographed or photographed. Perhaps those attending had the option of insisting on privacy (no cameras pointed toward them)? I haven't seen the WYD video you're referring to, but if it was from a distance, that would not bother me, and getting closer than that (within possible earshot) would most definitely have been a potential violation of privacy, so I doubt that was allowed to happen.


#7

Like everything else it depends on the context. Not only do I not want others to hear me whilst confessing I don't want to be seen. I'm not concerned whether I'm seen going to confession. After all no one knows whether I'm going to tell the priest I was rude to the checkout girl in the supermarket or if I've buried my wife under the patio. I still don't want to be seen during the period I'm confessing. I knew a lady who was a first class lip reader. So you never know who can see you!


#8

I think it is a good evangelization tool and would have no problem being seen in confession. Many Protestants have a poor image of confession, believing that there is a need for secrecy for reasons other than it truly being no one's business. Some think we pay the priest for absolution, some have even believed "favors" are done for forgiveness. Seeing what actually occurs could remedy those misconceptions. I do, however, understand that many would not feel comfortable with this so I don't think anyone should be taped unless they feel comfortable with the idea.


#9

I think it is in bad taste but not a break of the seal unless they are close enough to see, lip read, or hear what is said.
Our diocese has nice pics demonstrating the sacraments and I had hoped the ones for confession were acting/models for the confession one.
Just seems like bad taste and risky.


#10

I wouldn't have a problem with this. It is commonplace for Confession to take place, not in a confessional box, but just sitting in a quiet corner of the Church, confessing you sins and receiving absolution in full view of all.

So long as nobody can hear the confession I can't see a problem with photos of videos of Confession (so long as the priest and the penitent are OK with that). I agree that it could be a useful evangelising tool.


#11

I think that people confessing in a very public place like those seen at WYD don't expect to be totally anonymous. As long as people/cameras aren't listening in there isn't a problem. Anyone wanting a privacy and complete anonymity wouldn't choose that venue for confession. I think it's great to see that number of people celebrating the sacrament.


#12

[quote="Elizabeth502, post:6, topic:334318"]
Personally, I would never choose to go to Confession if I could be videographed or photographed. Perhaps those attending had the option of insisting on privacy (no cameras pointed toward them)? I haven't seen the WYD video you're referring to, but if it was from a distance, that would not bother me, and getting closer than that (within possible earshot) would most definitely have been a potential violation of privacy, so I doubt that was allowed to happen.

[/quote]

I recently returned from Europe where visits to many Catholic Churches revealed that logistics for confession are not the same everywhere. In at least one very large church with many, many confessionals, the confessionals were such that the priest was unseen but the penitents seated on each side of him were in full view of everyone. Didn't seem to bother them too much.


#13

I once attended a penance service where a bunch of visiting priests came. Most of the priests sat on a folding chair outside the confessional, or just at different spots around the church, the idea being that the penitent sat next to the priest on another folding chair ... in full view of everyone. People in the Confession line knew to keep a polite distance away so as not to overhear.

While I normally vastly prefer going to Confession anonymously "in the box", based on the fact that I had a boss at that time in my life who would pull me into a private room, close the door, and accuse me of lies, it was actually refreshing to confess actual true things that I had really done face-to-face to a priest ... and be forgiven.

I suppose I wouldn't have minded if someone had taken a picture of me in the Confession line or sitting next to the priest. I really would have minded if someone had tried to record my Confession.

...


#14

During confessions at the March for Life, I noticed that photographs were taken from such an angle that you could see the face of the priest and the back of the penitent.

Same with photos I saw of WYD.

I'm sure I didn't see all the photos...


#15

[quote="Phemie, post:12, topic:334318"]
I recently returned from Europe where visits to many Catholic Churches revealed that logistics for confession are not the same everywhere. In at least one very large church with many, many confessionals, the confessionals were such that the priest was unseen but the penitents seated on each side of him were in full view of everyone. Didn't seem to bother them too much.

[/quote]

I have seen lots of confessionals in Europe - the old fashioned wooden ones where the priest is in the 'box' and the penitent is visible.

In Montreal this year, I finally used one! When I got up to the confessional, I realized that I was actually facing the wall, my back was to the church, and I had to turn my head to speak to father.

Sure, as you get up, people can see who you are, but while confessing, you are with your back to the pews. At least that's how it was at St. Patrick's in Montreal. :thumbsup:


#16

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