Will confessions remain confidential?


If you go to confession to discuss problems with the priest, is it assured that nothing you say will leave the room? As in, even if you admit to doing something illegal the priest won’t tell anyone?


if you are making a confession the priest can’t reveal anything said to him no matter what it is.


a priest should die rather than give crime info.

and see also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_of_the_Confessional_and_the_Catholic_Church


A priest who reveals anything told him in confession is automatically excommunicated. A priest can’t even act on what he heard indirectly. For example, if someone tells a priest he was embezzling funds, the priest can’t act on this information if that person is involved with parish finances.
Whatever you say in confession won’t be revealed, is absolutely safe.
As a matter of fact there is a 1953 movie by Alfred Hitchcock called “I confess” about this very thing. A murderer confesses to a priest, and then the priest himself becomes suspected of the murder, not helped by the fact that the murderer plants incriminating evidence against the priest. The priest is put on trial, but never does he say what was revealed to him in the murderer’s confession, (The priest is acquitted, by the way, and then when a mob is ready to attack the priest after this, the murderer’s wife exposes the murderer.)


It has even happened in reality: around 1871, a French priest was framed for a murder that the culprit then confessed to him. Unable to defend himself in court, the priest was sentenced to death by beheading (he was spared and sent to Devils’ Island instead).



It’s so severe that his excommunication and confession can only be taken care of the pope himself.


Absolutely! The priest is forbidden from revealing anything in the confessional. It’s called the seal of confession and if the priest breaks it the consequences are VERY serious. Firstly - the priest is automatically excommunicated. Secondly - that excommunication can only be lifted by the pope. (Code of Canon Law, 1388 §1)

So basically, if a priest breaks the seal of confession, he would then have to hop on a plane to the Vatican and explain to the Pope why he so gravely and seriously violated the seal of confession.


Oh man! Where was the spoiler alert notification!!!




And not only can the priest not revel your sins, he can’t require you to, either. For example, the priest can’t require you to turn yourself into the police or confess to your wife or tell your parents as a condition of absolution.


How do we know what happened? Did the murderer ever confess to it?


yes, but he can ask the penitent, but not require this of him.



As in, even if you admit to doing something illegal the priest won’t tell anyone?



The priest is absolutely forbidden to repeat your confession in any way without your explicit consent.


I don’t think it is allowed even then.


this is so generally and mostly, but in extremely rare situations, it can be done but only anonymously.


Hi Paleocon / HelenRose,

A priest can never reveal someone’s sins from confession even with explicit permission. A priest CAN act on the information WITH explicit permission.

Taking a classic example - if someone confessed they put a bomb under the altar that will go off during mass, the priest cannot reveal that the person confessed it. However, the priest could ask for permission to act on that information. If granted, the priest could then remove the bomb or call the police, etc.

On occasion priests have asked me for permission to use information outside of the confessional and I’ve always happily granted it. It was never to actually tell anyone about my sins, but more to get me support or information that would be helpful.

In any case - hope that clarification helps!


You may be right, but do you have a source?


HI Paleocon,

Here’s a quick article outlining what I had said previously: catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0059.html

Fr. Saunders is a generally trustworthy source, but I noted when he delved into the part discussing this particular topic, he provided no sources, so I’m trying to find out where that comes from.

Admittedly, I have been taking it at face value, as many good priests I know have done and explained it exactly as that. The best I could find was Summa Theologica - Question 11, Article 4. But it would be nice to find something in Canon Law.

I’ll keep digging and see if I can find something!


Whether God is supremely one?


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