If someone confessed to murder


#1

Okay, so, what if someone confessed to a priest that they murdered someone, and nobody else knows about it? I’m not saying that I murdered someone, I was just curious as to what would happen. Sorry if someone already asked this :blush:


#2

The same thing that happens basically in all confession....


#3

I was taught that it is likely that as a condition, it is likely that the priest would tell them that they would have to turn themselves into the police.

So it is unlikely that a person would leave the confessional by simply saying a few “Hail Mary’s” and get on with their life. Priests know that Justice needs to be served here on earth too, crimes need to be solved and that victims and their families need closure.

Therefore if the person going to confession did not turn themselves in, they would not be receiving the grace of confession and absolution, this is my understanding anyway. Remember this is God we are talking about too, with God there are no loopholes! Hope this helps. God bless you.


#4

[quote="Monicad, post:3, topic:350565"]
I was taught that it is likely that as a condition, it is likely that the priest would tell them that they would have to turn themselves into the police.

.

[/quote]

Nope. Such is not permitted.

They can urge such of course...though.


#5

[quote="Bookcat, post:4, topic:350565"]
Nope. Such is not permitted.

They can urge such of course...though.

[/quote]

Well, I'll be....

I wonder why not?


#6

That violates the seal.


#7

Because when we confess in confession we are absolved of our sin. (Of course, if the penitent is not, in fact, repentant, absolution doesn’t happen, even if the priest said the words.)

If anyone thought, much less knew, that if he or she went to confession and confessed murder they would have to turn themselves in to the police, no one would ever confess such a sin.

While a priest could urge the penitent to turn themselves in, he cannot make absolution dependent on that.


#8

I don’t understand the question. Confession is confession regardless of what is confessed. If the person is contrite, they receive absolution and a penance.

If you are asking what does the priest do if someone confesses murder to him, the answer is “nothing”. He is bound by the seal of confession, which is absolute.


#9

This is completely incorrect. I am sorry someone taught you that.

Can.* 983 §1. The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.

§2. The interpreter, if there is one, and all others who in any way have knowledge of sins from confession are also obliged to observe secrecy.

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.

§2. A person who has been placed in authority cannot use in any manner for external governance the knowledge about sins which he has received in confession at any time.


#10

Rather than repeating what others have said, I’d add this:

If one was truly contrite and sought out a good confession, he/she would likely not need urging by the priest because turning oneself in to the civil authorities would be a manifestation of a contrite heart.


#11

One of the apologists said a while ago that the priest cannot obligate someone to reveal something told in confession, because this would be breaking the seal of confession.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=541627&highlight=can+a+priest+force+a+cheater


#12

There's an Alfred Hitchcock movie which takes this as its basic premise. I think it stars Jimmy Stuart. Can't remember the name off the top of my head... :shrug:


#13

It’s appropriately entitled,* I Confess*. :wink:


#14

Montgomery Clift.

The story is that Hitchcock had a battle with the studio who thought that people in the audience would be yelling at the screen for Fr. Logan to simply say that a man confessed in confession.

It was a while ago that I saw it; does Hitchcock explain the Seal?


#15

:blush:


#16

If the murderer was repentant he would be absolved of his sin and ascribed penance, but nothing else as I understand.

There is no circumstance where a priest may divulge the contents of a confession, priests and saints have died rather than doing such.

Questionable that the priest cannot “dob him in” so to speak? Perhaps, but that’s how it works.


#17

A priest I knew said this same question was asked him. He said that he would try to get the person who murdered someone to talk with him about it outside of the confessional. Then he could report it.


#18

[quote="mdgspencer, post:17, topic:350565"]
A priest I knew said this same question was asked him. He said that he would try to get the person who murdered someone to talk with him about it outside of the confessional. Then he could report it.

[/quote]

Even this would constitute a violation of the seal. A priest is not to act on anything he heard in confession, even to "get" the person to talk outside of confession. This is what canon 984.1 forbids.


#19

[quote="mdgspencer, post:17, topic:350565"]
A priest I knew said this same question was asked him. He said that he would try to get the person who murdered someone to talk with him about it outside of the confessional. Then he could report it.

[/quote]

and this priest should decide whether he is a priest or a cop. Can.* 983 §1. The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.

§2. The interpreter, if there is one, and all others who in any way have knowledge of sins from confession are also obliged to observe secrecy.

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.

§2. A person who has been placed in authority cannot use in any manner for external governance the knowledge about sins which he has received in confession at any time.


#20

If the person is truly repentant the priest must forgive them and he can’t tell them to go to the police only suggest.


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