Writing Down Sins During Confession

Hi y’all!

I am listening to last Thursday’s edition of Catholic Answers Live with Jimmy Akin in which it was mentioned that someone (in particular, a priest) is automatically excommunicated for recording a sacramental confession on a device.

Some time ago, a priest heard my general confession and, since it was clearly going to be rather lengthy, the priest asked if he could make notes (I think he wrote down sins, so he could give me advice later in the confession), and I gave him permission.

Assuming that the priest disposed of the list and did not divulge any sins to anyone, was he excommunicated? Was I excommunicated for giving him permission?

Please bear in mind, the confession was done in increments (it was quite a scrupulous, lengthy confession) and I think (though I don’t remember for certain), that he retained the same list between sessions.

Yes, I also listened to Jimmy Akin on the open forum so I heard the advice that he gave. The key here is that the sacramental seal is just that: a seal. Your sins can go no further than the confessional and that is binding only on the priest or bishop hearing the confessions (or any third party who either assists in the confessional or unintentionally overheard a confession). You can go out and tell anyone what you confessed and as was noted on the program may not be in your best interest. Now as for the priest writing things down in the situation as you described there was nothing done indicating that he broke the seal. Now if he had put your first and last name on the paper that could be problematic if the sheet were to get lost. But a priest just jotting down a lenghthy confession is not breaking this seal. He did it for the purpose of remembering the many situations that you presented to him.

Recording on a recording device is really a different story. That device has your voice on it and can be taken out of the confessional for further broadcasting. It would not be used in the same manner as how your priest used that sheet of paper. Remember that a priest can just as easily leave the confessional and repeat your sins to anyone and that would break the seal.

So, in my opinion, the priest did nothing wrong in writing down the appropriate notes to comment on within the sacrament. I would assume that he destroyed the sheet but as I said earlier if your name is not in it then it cannot reveal your sins to anyone. It would just be an anonymous list of sins… teachccd

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