Is a priest required by law to report confessions?


#1

This may be more of a legal question, but as a mandated reporter, would a priest be required by law to report the sexual abuse of a minor if someone confessed it in the confessional? I understand the seal of confession, but what about a priests legal responsibility as a mandated reporter?


#2

There are laws on the books that protect the seal of confession, but even if the civil law required a priest to report a sacramental confession of sexual abuse (or any other sin), the priest would be required by the Church to refuse to do so. The seal of confession is absolute and priests have been martyred by civil authorities who have tried to coerce information about sacramental confessions out of them. One example was St. John Nepomucene, the Martyr of the Confessional, who was executed for refusing to disclose to her husband the king a queen’s sacramental confession.


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