Would this break the seal of confession?


#1

I was just thinking and came up with a quite possibly stupid question. If there was a camera in a confession room that only recorded video but not sound, and if the penitents and priest were to cover their mouths/writings from the camera so that it could not be seen, would that break the seal of confession? I’m not sure if the seal of confession is like HIPAA, where healthcare providers (priests) aren’t even allowed to reveal that someone is in the hospital (confession) in the first place.

My line of thinking is that if this sort of thing were permissible, perhaps it would help with the whole abuse thing? If it was permissible, I’m sure somebody would have thought of it and implemented it already, though…


#3

Okay, those would be some reasons why it wouldn’t be a preferable option, but does it break the seal of confession specifically? I’m not really asking if it’s a good idea overall, just wondering if it breaks the seal.


#4

The priest s not even allowed to say he heard someone´s confession. The police can’t even watch those videos and use as proof if a crime has been committed.

Would you like to have someone watch you crying etc when confessing? Or think, that person is talking to long and comment to you afterwards? Why is he picking his nose etc. You get the picture.


#5

If it breaks the seal of confession then I’m completely against the idea.

Personally, when it comes to embarrassing things like nose picking or crying, I’d very much rather those be revealed if it meant uncovering sexual abuse. Of course, in my train of thought, if such an idea was plausible, the tapes/recordings would only be viewed in situations where allegations have been made. But, if it breaks the seal of confession, then I know it is not plausible so I will stop there.


#6

Yes.

It does. Period.


#7

Got it, thank you for your answer and the unnecessary emphasis. (Really, I get it. I promise.)


#8

Nice to know it’s not necessary for you. But believe me, I’ve seen enough of these threads to know it’s not enough for some others.

Get ready for all the “well, what if…” or “I don’t think it would be…” or “if it were done this way…” type of comments and questions.

I just wanted to get it out of the way from the start. No, it doesn’t matter what anyone posts later, the answer won’t change.


#9

Sometimes people are just having fun batting ideas around as a thought experiment, not because they think they can change the answer.


#10

I am aware of a Catholic hospital that wanted to install cameras in every patient room. The seal of Confession was one reason that the cameras had to go to the scrap pile.


#11

It wouldn’t brake the seal of confession, but it would probably make people upset and uncomfortable to say the least.


#12

The seal of confession is like HIPAA, the priest is not even allowed to reveal that someone was in the confessional or that he heard someone’s confession.

As piece of trivia, pretty much of our nation’s governmental concepts of confidentiality:

  • Attorney - Client Privileged
  • Doctor - Patient Confidentiality

are all really based on the Seal of Confession.

This is an interesting Wikipedia post about what is called in legal circles as “Priest-penitent privilege”

God Bless


#13
I would think it very imprudent. For one thing, it could make the priest into a 

target, if for example a government wanted to learn what is dissident said, or if a wife divorcing her husband

wanted proof that justified her case and asked the court to go after the priest for

information.

Actually such things have already happened when it comes to the sacrament of

confession.


#14

Father David seems to disagree with you, and his statement should probably hold more weight, seeing as he’s a priest and all.

Just saying.


#15

Your concerns are valid. Here is a good article on the topic. https://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/the-time-has-come-to-ban-reconciliation-rooms

A better option, in the vein you are suggesting, might be more confessionals that look like this:
645x344-a-gift-from-above-italian-priest-finds-36000-in-confession-booth-1528461176855

Although perhaps there ought to be a grate or cloth between priest and penitent so the priest cannot know who the penitent is, as per the recommendation of the article.


#16

Awee this reminds of my thesis and defense for next week.


#17

What I was taught is a priest cannot reveal the sin if the person is known or cannot reveal the person if the sin is known. He can reveal that he hears a lot of people confessing envy if you have no ideal who went to confession or he can say he heard someone’s confession if you have no way of knowing the sin that was confessed.


#19

If people have to cover their mouths while going to confession then those cameras are a violation of the seal.


#20

This is a product of the horrible modern security police state and must be resisted at all costs. This is simply a way for tyranny to take over and should cause no changes whatsoever in the holy sacraments of the church. However, I don’t know that it would specifically violate canon law relating to confessions.


#22

Let’s not bicker.

Since my question has been answered, I’m going to mute this thread. Anyone involved may feel free to continue discussion.


#23

In my opinion it is difficult for us to understand the seal of the confession because it is human nature to disclose secrets. A business mentor once told me “everyone has a friend to whom they tell everything, and that friend may not be you”. That advice has served me well in my career. I’ve learned to keep confidences.

While I consider myself trustworthy, if there were serious pressure, legal matters, etc. I cannot promise I would go to jail before I would reveal a confidence. I’m not sure I am that strong.

Add to that a culture where we are taught “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one” and we are brought up to believe that revealing confidences is often the worthy thing.

We each know our own weaknesses. It is difficult for us to grasp that priests can hear confessions and not tell anyone. That they will face prison or death before they will reveal.

This deep, innate incredulity makes us want to come up with scenarios where it would be okay to peek into that confessional.


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