Seal of confession is absolute, even after penitent dies, officials say


Catholic Herald UK

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ABSTRACT Seal of confession is absolute, even after penitent dies, officials say Sat 15th Nov 2014 | Last updated: Sat 15th Nov 2014 at 08:20am Home Latest News Features Comment & Blogs Multimedia Catholic Life Spiritual Life Saint of the week The week ahead The word this week Archive Jobs Advertising Subscribe Latest News Seal of confession is absolute, even after penitent dies, officials say By Cindy Wooden on Friday, 14 November 2014 In This Article Apostolic Penitentiary , Catholic Church , Church law , Confessions , L'Osservatore Romano , Vatican Share Share | Related Posts Family synod: Mid-term report stirs controversy among bishops Pope Francis recalls his first Communion Vatican commission planning to include additional abuse survivor Vote for women bishops does not create ‘new reality’ for ecumenism, says Vatican official Synod document cites cultural and economic threats to family Zemanta The seal protects the dignity of the person, the official said (CNS photo illustration by Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier) The secrecy of a confession is maintained so seriously and completely by the Catholic Church that a priest would be excommunicated for revealing the contents of a confession when ordered to testify by a court or even after the penitent dies, leading Vatican officials have said. Mgr Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court dealing with matters of conscience, said: “No confessor can be dispensed from it, even if he would want to reveal the contents of a confession in order to prevent a serious and imminent evil.” The penitentiary sponsored a conference at the Vatican from November 12-13 on “the confessional seal and pastoral privacy”. According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, conference participants heard that since the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 spelled out the penalties in church law for violating the secret of the confessional, “the discipline of the church in this matter has remained substantially the same,” with the exception of additional protections. One of those additions, the newspaper said, was a 1988 Church law explicitly stating that using an “electronic apparatus” to record, broadcast or otherwise share the contents of a confession also is an excommunicable offense. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, told conference participants it is important “to remove any suspicion” that the Church’s commitment to the Confessional seal “is designed to cover intrigues, plots or mysteries as people sometimes naively believe or, more easily, are led to believe”. The seal, he said, is intended to protect the most intimate part of the human person, “that is, to safeguard the presence of God within each man”. The effect of the secret, he said, is that it also protects a person’s reputation and right to privacy. The confessional seal, Mgr. Nykiel said, “is binding not only on the confessor, but also on the interpreter, if present, and anyone who in any way, even casually, comes to know of the sins confessed.” The Church, he said, takes the seal so seriously that it forbids, on the pain of excommunication, a priest from.......