Seal of Confession

From what I understand, a priest is not allowed to disclose what is heard in confession. However, is he allowed to act on the information for example, in saving someone’s life?

This is entirely a hypothetical. I am watching the Father Brown series and this was a scenario in one of the episodes. I wanted to get feedback from catholics since some shows may take “creative liberties” to make the episodes more interesting.
In the episode, Father Brown is told in confession that there will be an attempt on the Bishop’s life at 2 pm at a particular location. So of course he tries to get the Bishop to change his plan (of course, without being able to tell him the reason).

It is my understanding that a priest is not supposed to act upon information he receives under the seal of confession. He might, however, have had other reasons to ask the bishop to change his plans.

A priest is forbidden to reveal what was a discussed during Confession or to make use of information obtained during Confession.

The answer to your question is therefore no.

The new Father Brown series is unfortunately not exactly true to the character. Putting that aside I remember this episode and was troubled by story. It is my understanding that a priest can’t act on the information he receives in confession. As I recall a priest gave me the example of learning his chalice was poisoned. In such a case he would still say the Mass knowing he would be poisoned.

As pointed out a priest may receive other information and act on that information. But I’m curious on how this would work in this scenario. If he received information about the assasination outside the confessional I would think he could act. But could he act to encourage the bishop to change plans based on more trivial information?

All Priest are obligate too the seal off what takes part in the Confession,or people might not want too go because they be afraid it could ruin their lives,even at Mass a priest was attack at the Alter,and no one knew it was coming.
God Bless all Priest from harm. :amen:

This is why I asked the question, it seemed as if the episode took a few liberties with the creative aspect.
It also illustrated the basis of why the confession must be sealed. As soon as the Bishop realised that Fr. Brown was acting on info he had on his “would-be” assassin, he started badgering Fr. Brown for information.

All the responses from the posters have confirmed what I thought was the case …the priest should not act on the information, even though the episode did not reflect that this was not be done. IIRC, I don’t think the Fr. Brown character commented on this aspect of it either.

Thanks for the replies…It’s a good series though. I’ll check in with the real catholics to clarify anything else I don’t understand:D:D

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit