Does the confidentiality of confession also apply to the penitent?


#1

A friend recently shared some of the counsel they received through the course of confession. They were uplifted by the priest's words and felt others may be uplifted, as well. I am uncomfortable with this but can find no definitive source which states whether or not the priest's words to the penitent are said in confidence. One might use reason to conclude that these words should remain confidential: (1) they are part of the pastoral care of this individual and are thus meant for this individual; (2) they are taken out of context because anyone outside of the confessional has no knowledge of the surrounding circumstances; and (3) even should the penitent misinterpret or misquote the priest, the priest cannot defend himself for to do so would be breaking confidentiality.

Can anyone direct me toward a definitive instruction on this?

Thank you, and God bless you.


#2

Not that I am aware of...except for say certain false accusations and the normal prudence etc which you refer too (and the confessor may not wish it to be "broadcast"). And one must bear in mind that the Priest cannot "defend himself" .....or refer to the confession....


#3

The seal of the confessional does not apply to the penitent.


#4

Canon Law specifically notes the confessor in regard this matter. The confessor cannot discuss anything that he has heard during confession...period. There is no such restriction placed on the penitent, therefore the penitent is free to discuss anything heard or said during confession.


#5

James 5:16 says:

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.”

That to me says that we are not limited to share our sins only with the priest.


#6

If a penitent chooses to share details of his/her confession, they may do so. The Priest isn’t going to say anything that he wouldn’t say to another struggling with the same sin.


#7

Such would not reflect I think variety of personal circumstances…so yes it is important to bear in mind that some things are rather particularized.


#8

[quote="Bookcat, post:7, topic:297570"]
Such would not reflect I think variety of personal circumstances....so yes it is important to bear in mind that some things are rather particularized.

[/quote]

Not in such a way that a penitent can't decide to share the info. Personalized advice only runs the risk of being embarrassing to the penitent, not the priest. It is just the priest who can't.


#9

Think of it like doctor/patient confidentiality, except stronger. The sins are yours and yours to share. So, no, the confidentiality does not apply to you. You can tell whomever you want about your sins, even after you've confessed them. In some cases it could be important. For instance, if you've had relations with a woman before, confessed it and broke up with the woman, then you meet another woman who is a devout Christian. She should know that you've had relations before (when the time is appropriate to tell her). Or if you stole something, then confessed it, it would still be a good idea to return what you stole (if possible, or pay for it if not) and tell the store owner/manager about it and seek forgiveness from them as well.


#10

My reaction to anyone who tries to tell me what happened to them in Confession is: "Bragging or Complaining?"
IOW Spare me, I am not interested in that part of your life. I do not want to hear!


#11

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:10, topic:297570"]
My reaction to anyone who tries to tell me what happened to them in Confession is: "Bragging or Complaining?"
IOW Spare me, I am not interested in that part of your life. I do not want to hear!

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#12

[quote="LThill, post:1, topic:297570"]
A friend recently shared some of the counsel they received through the course of confession. They were uplifted by the priest's words and felt others may be uplifted, as well. I am uncomfortable with this but can find no definitive source which states whether or not the priest's words to the penitent are said in confidence. One might use reason to conclude that these words should remain confidential: (1) they are part of the pastoral care of this individual and are thus meant for this individual; (2) they are taken out of context because anyone outside of the confessional has no knowledge of the surrounding circumstances; and (3) even should the penitent misinterpret or misquote the priest, the priest cannot defend himself for to do so would be breaking confidentiality.

Can anyone direct me toward a definitive instruction on this?

Thank you, and God bless you.

[/quote]

Have you been listening to Sensus Traditionis? Fr. Ripperger, who used to teach at OLOG Seminary for the FSSP, essentially stated all of the above. The seal itself doesn't apply, but being prudent does.


#13

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:10, topic:297570"]
My reaction to anyone who tries to tell me what happened to them in Confession is: "Bragging or Complaining?"
IOW Spare me, I am not interested in that part of your life. I do not want to hear!

[/quote]

Yes, I have to agree. Who cares about another person's confession? Apparently, people are into the "facebook" (or whatever it's called) thing where they have to post or broadcast every miserable detail of their lives for the world to see and/or hear. In my book, the whole concept is revolting to say the least.


#14

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:10, topic:297570"]
My reaction to anyone who tries to tell me what happened to them in Confession is: "Bragging or Complaining?"
IOW Spare me, I am not interested in that part of your life. I do not want to hear!

[/quote]

As someone entering RCIA I find it helpful to hear first confession stories from other converts.


#15

[quote="LThill, post:1, topic:297570"]
A friend recently shared some of the counsel they received through the course of confession. They were uplifted by the priest's words and felt others may be uplifted, as well. I am uncomfortable with this but can find no definitive source which states whether or not the priest's words to the penitent are said in confidence. One might use reason to conclude that these words should remain confidential: (1) they are part of the pastoral care of this individual and are thus meant for this individual; (2) they are taken out of context because anyone outside of the confessional has no knowledge of the surrounding circumstances; and (3) even should the penitent misinterpret or misquote the priest, the priest cannot defend himself for to do so would be breaking confidentiality.

Can anyone direct me toward a definitive instruction on this?

Thank you, and God bless you.

[/quote]

The Seal only applies to the priest.

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.

§2 An interpreter, if there is one, is also obliged to observe this secret, as are all others who in any way whatever have come to a knowledge of sins from a confession.

Can. 984 §1 The confessor is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent, even when all danger of disclosure is excluded.


#16

In a homely, an Irish Priest said, “You should all thank the Irish because confessions used to be public and it was the Irish who made them private”. I guess confession was like an “AA” meeting where you stood up infront of town, confessed sins, and recieved penance publicaly. Yicks!!! This makes sense to me since we will have a private judgement and a public judgement from God.


#17

I have done extensive reading on the Sacrament of Penance and I never came up with documentation that the confession of sin was public, just the performance of penance. In the ancient CHurch if you committed what was then considered mortal sin, you were simply excommunicated and not allowed a second chance. When the Order of Penitents came about there were only a small number of sins that required that one go through this process so if you were enrolled as a Penitent people knew you must have committed one of the four major sins (Adultery, murder, apostasy and I forget the last as my mind isn't sharp until my second cup of coffee). The sin was confessed to the Bishop in private who then assigned the penance. Penitents were known by their dress and their not being allowed in the Church but required to sit outside where people could see them, not to humiliate them but so that others could pray for them and help them to reconcile with the Church. After the completion of their penance, absolution was then given by the bishop and they were admitted back to the Church usually on Holy Thursday.

Perhaps the idea of public confession comes from the Chapter of Faults that occurred in religious congregations where the monks and nuns would confess their faults before their brothers or sisters.

It is true that the Irish monks came up with the concept of confession as we know it with no part of it being public.


#18

Thank-you joannm :)

This clears alot up in my mind.


#19

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