Radio Show

Did My Priest Break the Seal of Confession?


Sean calls into the show and shares that he went to Confession, and then his wife went in after him to the same priest. He explains that the priest told his wife some things Sean had said in Confession, but not his sins. He asks Father Dave if this is breaking the Seal of Confession.

“Technically, according to the Canon Law of our Church, the Seal of Confession — meaning that the priest must not reveal what is confessed during the Sacrament of Reconciliation — technically, only does apply to the sins that you confess,” Father Dave says. “If you walk into the confessional and sit down face-to-face, and say, ‘Hey father, before we start, I just got a new job. I’m really excited.’ And then you start your confession, and later on, he sees you outside of the confessional and says, ‘Congratulations on the new job.’ No, technically the Seal of Confession does not apply to that.”

“However, I would say that it is not common knowledge or the general presumption of all of the faithful, so I and many other priests just go broadly. And just presume that people think that once they walk in that door, every single thing that is said must be kept within the strictest confidentiality.”

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“Now, if somebody talks about a crime, but it is not a crime that they are confessing themselves … Like, if someone walks into the confessional and says, ‘Father, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I saw the choir director acting inappropriately with one of the choir members.’ That’s not something that person is confessing, so technically that is not under the Seal of Confession.”

“Even if I knew the two of you were married, in that context, I go over and above, and I would not have done what he did … But again, that’s only because I’m going above and beyond, and I think many priests do. But technically, what you’re describing is not protected by the Seal of Confession.”

Father Dave points out that it if the priest violated the Seal of Confession, he would be excommunicated from the Church, and explains that it would be fair for Sean to reflect this question back to his priest, so that he will be more careful so as not to be falsely accused of breaking the Seal of Confession. (Original Air 9-06-18)