Seal of Confession


#1

Does that mean you (the confessor) does not talk about the sins after confession as well?


#2

The seal is binding on the priest only. The person making the confession is free to discuss their confession with whom they choose, but this may not always be wise or appropriate.


#3

It is also binding on anyone who should happen to overhear the confession. The confessor can tell whoever he/she wishes.


#4

The confessor is the one who is hearing the confession (I know, it can get confusing). In other words, the confessor is the priest. You, the one making the confession, are called the penitent.

The seal of confession applies only to the priest and not to the penitent. My understanding is that the information you confess belongs to you and to God. Thus, the priest cannot reveal it because it does not belong to him – it belongs to God. Even if you were to tell others what you confessed, the priest cannot comment or say or do anything that would betray the seal of confession. So roughly speaking, maybe it might help to put it this way: “What goes in stays in.” So whatever the priest hears stays that way and is never repeated unless you go back to him and say “Father, remember when I confessed that …” and you give him permission to speak about it.

A priest can only do something about that information if you give him permission to.

But as someone else said, it might not be wise to tell people of your confession. In fact, this might even create trouble. I’m sure you could think of an example why in general you should be careful. If you were to share your confession, it is necessary to exercise caution and prudence as you aren’t the only one involved anymore – the priest is too (in the sense that they hold that information).

To illustrate how serious the seal of the confessional is, here’s a real life example.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the case somewhere in the US, where there was an underage girl who told a priest that someone was predating on her. Being bound by the seal of confession, the priest could not say anything. Much later on (after the girl was over the legal age, I believe), when it was known to more than just the priest and penitent, it ended up in the priest being tried in court for not revealing that information to the legal authorities. I think that’s how it went, anyway. If you Google it, you will find plenty of articles. I think it was in Louisiana.

It goes to show you how serious the seal of the confession is.


#5

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