The sacramental seal is inviolable. Quoting Canon 983.1 that the code of Canon Law, the Catechism states, "...It is a crime because that a confessor in any means to betray a penitent by indigenous or in any other manner or for any kind of reason" (No. 2490). A priest, therefore, cannot rest the seal to save his own life, to safeguard his good name, come refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to assist the food of righteousness (like reporting a crime), or to avert a publicly calamity. He can not be compelled by regulation to disclose a person"s confession or it is in bound by any kind of oath the takes, e.g. As a evil in a court trial. A priest cannot disclose the materials of a confession either directly, by repeating the substance of what has actually been said, or indirectly, by part sign, suggestion, or action. A Decree from the divine Office (Nov. 18, 1682) mandated the confessors space forbidden, also where there would be no revelation direct or indirect, come make any type of use that the knowledge derived in the confession that would "displease" the penitent or expose his identity.
You are watching: Can a priest report a crime from confession
(Just together an aside, a an excellent movie which encounters this really topic is Alfred Hitchcock"s "I Confess," which encounters a priest that hears a murder confession and then is framed because that the murder. As a priest, I was in agony during much of the movie.)
However, a priest might ask the penitent for a release from the sacramental seal to talk about the confession with the human being himself or others. For instance, if the penitent desires to talk about the subject issue of a previous confession a specific sin, fault, temptation, circumstance in a counseling session or in a conversation through the very same priest, that priest will require the permission the the penitent to do so. For instance, especially with the advent of "face-to-face confession," i have had individuals come approximately me and say, "Father, mental that trouble I speak to you about in confession?" I need to say, "Please refresh mine memory," or "Do you give me permission to discuss this with you now?"
Or if a priest requirements guidance native a more experienced confessor to attend to a daunting case that conscience, he very first must asking the permission that the penitent to talk about the matter. Also in this case, the priest must keep the identification of the human being secret.
What happens if a monk violates the seal the confession? The Catechism (No. 1467) cites the password of Canon legislation (No. 1388.1) in addressing this issue, which states, "A confessor who straight violates the seal the confession occurs an automatic excommunication booked to the Apostolic See; if the does so only indirectly, he is to be punished in accord v the seriousness the the offense." native the severity of the punishment, us can clearly see just how sacred the sacramental seal of confession is in the eyes of the Church.
Actually, the Church"s position in this matter has actually long-standing credibility. The fourth Lateran board of directors (1215) developed one that the first comprehensive teachings concerning the Sacrament that Penance. Addressing various troubles ranging indigenous abuses to heretical stands versus the sacrament, the council defended the sacrament itself, stipulated the need for the yearly sacramental confession of sins and reception that the holy Eucharist, and also imposed disciplinary actions upon monk confessors. The council decreed, "Let the confessor take absolute care not to betray the sinner v word or sign, or in any other method whatsoever. In case he needs professional advice he may seek that without, however, in any means indicating the person. For us decree the he that presumes to expose a sin which has been shown up to the in the tribunal that penance is not just to it is in deposed from the priestly office, but additionally to it is in consigned come a closeup of the door monastery for perpetual penance."
A beautiful story (perhaps embellished with time) which catches the reality of this topic is the life that St. John Nepomucene (1340-93), the vicar general to the Archbishop of Prague. King Wenceslaus IV, described as a vicious, young man who quickly succumbed to rage and also caprice, was highly suspicious the his wife, the Queen. St. John taken place to it is in the Queen"s confessor. Back the king himself was unfaithful, he became increasingly jealous and also suspicious the his wife, that was irreproachable in her conduct. Back Wencelaus torture St. John to pressure him to expose the Queen"s confessions, he would certainly not. In the end, St. John was thrown into the river Moldau and drowned on march 20, 1393.
Each priest realizes the he is the ordained mediator of a very sacred and also precious sacrament. That knows that in the confessional, the penitent speaks no so lot to him, but through him come the Lord. Therefore, humbled through his position, the priest knows that everything is stated in confession should remain an enig at all costs.
Another interesting side come this inquiry is the obligation of the laity: one interpreter required for someone to do a confession or anyone who gains expertise of a confession (such as overhearing someones confession) is also obligated to keep secrecy (Code that Canon Law, No. 983.2). Because that such a human to violate the secrecy of one more persons confession is a mortal sin and warrants "a just penalty, no excluding excommunication" (No. 1388.2). A human who falsely accuses a priest of breaking the seal of the confession incurs a mortal sin and also perhaps other canonical penalties, including excommunication.
See more: Can I Use Laxatives To Lose Weight Loss: Why They Are Not Safe Or Effective
Clearly, the Church regards the seal that confession as sacred. Every human whether monk or laity should take the responsibility to preserve the secrecy of confession for sure seriously.