Canon Law on Seal of Confession

Can. 983 1 The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.

2 An interpreter, if there is one, is also obliged to observe this secret, as are all others who in any way whatever have come to a knowledge of sins from a confession.

Can. 984 1 The confessor is wholly forbidden to use knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent, even when all danger of disclosure is excluded.

2 A person who is in authority may not in any way, for the purpose of external governance, use knowledge about sins which has at any time come to him from the hearing of confession.

Code of Canon Law


In reply to an inquiry on the seal of the Sacrament, I would note that a penitent has the right to go to any parish or priest for the sacrament. Also the penitent has the right to confess his sins anonymously (behind a screen). If the penitent's identity is made known for any reason, the confessor has the responsibility to keep secret anything which is confessed. In hearing the sins of parishioners or people I have known, I can honestly say it has not caused me to negatively judge someone. If anything, just the opposite, I have felt a closeness and regard for the penitent because of their courage. There are ecclesiastical recourses if someone believes the seal of the sacrament has been violated. Please see the section of Canon Law which deals specifically with the Sacrament of Penance.

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