Seal of Confession

Question from RB on 11/2/2007:

Dear Father -- Our pastor on a few occasions has mentioned a few things he heard in confession during his homilies. The details have involved the mention of a specific sin, advice given and penance assigned. The identity of those confessing has not been revealed -- at least, not specifically, no names given. However, his mention of the above has me wondering:

What does the seal of confession protect? Does the seal of confession protect all that is discussed in confession or just the identity of the person?

Thank you, Fr. Levis, and may God bless you richly!

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11/5/2007:

RB, The seal is meant to protect the anonymity of the person confessing. Sometimes a preacher will mention something he obviously heard in confession years past, something is mentioned but with no details that another might recognize. Sometimes it is comical, always for the good of the congregation, but never so often that the hearers would be frightened off from confession. Specific names and sinners are most strickly forbidden the confessor, even to the point of his being excommunicated. He must be willing to die to preserve the seal. Fr. Bob Levis

1 comment:

  1. I was under the impression that a priest couldn't talk about confessions period.
    "Even if the person making the confession releases the priest from the obligation of confession, the priest cannot breach that confidentiality," said Morrisey. "It's necessary in order to protect that level of conscience."
    "A priest cannot reveal the contents of a confession either directly, by repeating the substance of what has been said, or indirectly, by some sign, suggestion, or action. A Decree from the Holy Office (Nov. 18, 1682) mandated that confessors are forbidden, even where there would be no revelation direct or indirect, to make any use of the knowledge obtained in the confession that would "displease" the penitent or reveal his identity."
    I'm a bit confused.