Seal of confessional


Does the seal of the confessional only to apply to things said to a priest inside the confessional during an “official” confession or does it extend to anything said to a priest? For example, let’s say someone confessed to a serious crime to his priest during outside of the confessional; would the priest be able to go to authorities?


Doesn’t matter where or when confession was heard. If it’s the sacrament of confession the seal of confession is there always.


Are you asking about the ‘confessional’ as a location or ‘confession’ as a sacrament?

If a person “went to confession” outside the confessional (e.g., celebrated the sacrament and was absolved), then the ‘seal’ applies.

On the other hand, if a person was just having a conversation with a priest, and admitted to committing a crime, the ‘seal’ would not apply. (Of course, the priest would have to determine whether the admission was made in confidence, with the expectation that it would not be repeated, and make a prudential judgment. Still, that judgment wouldn’t be based on the notion of the ‘seal’, necessarily.)


Place doesn’t matter. What matters is if you are going to confession.

Let’s say someone went to spiritual direction with a priest and said I murdered someone the seal doesn’t apply. But if he confessed it during the sacrament of confession he can’t.


Some time ago I when I went to confession I explained to the priest that my hearing is poor. He responded: “Before we start your confession, do you have a problem hearing my homilies.” We discussed that for a minute or two then he said: “Okay, now we will start your confession.”

That puzzled me for a bit until I realized that he could only use what I told him outside of confession, and he wanted to be very clear on when it was said.


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