~ On the use of knowledge gained confidentially ~
Please note, this post is not about absolution or the conditions under which absolution is valid or invalid.
This post is about two things:
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.
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.
The related (though distinct) topic of information gained by a priest in spiritual direction or private conversation wherein confidentiality is expected, or information was shared on the assumption that trust would not be betrayed.
I am not posing a specific question. Instead, I’m doing something similar to what is done in the News section of the forum – posting content as a point of departure and basis for conversation.
Now that I have established the topic, I pose the scenario.
The following scene and montages are from a Mexican telenovela called El Privilegio de Amar (1998) • “The Privilege to Love” . I added English subtitles.
Context for the above scene:
The woman, Luciana, walks toward the confessional as the priest is standing up, having finished hearing confessions. He sees her but doesn’t recognize her. He motions her to approach. She kneels behind the screen. After he asks her what brings her, she remarks that he has a poor memory, and went on to say that they had shared important moments in the home of his parents. At that point, a look of shock and distress comes over the priest and he asks her what her name is, and she tells him. The scene then cuts to a different scene and characters. When it cuts back to the priest and the woman, they are no longer in the confessional, but having a conversation face to face.
In case anyone is wondering, no, this story isn’t an anti-Catholic production. Quite the opposite. It’s a story about wounds, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
The protagonist, Cristina, is the daughter of the priest. She was conceived when he was a young man about to head off to seminary, urged into the priesthood by his mother. Luciana, the young woman who worked in the family home as a maid, was in love with him, and suffered interiorly. They got involved one night when they were conversing alone in a bedroom, after he had been packing his things. He left, never finding out that she became pregnant…until 20 years later. She abandoned her baby due to poverty.
It’s beyond the scope of this post to examine the whole story. I’ve chosen a specific topic, as described above.