So what do you do when someone comes in and confesses to having placed a series of bombs around the city?
You encourage them in the name of God to repent.
Tell them they're lost, the Mosque is down the street.
He still cannot tell anyone outside of the confessional. But if someone tells a priest something like that, he’s not there for confession. Obviously, he can’t repent for a sin that he is about to commit and has no intention of not committing. It’s a rather extreme hypothetical.
It’s a nonsensical hypothetical. You can’t confess for a crime you have yet to commit. And if the “confession” is not for the purpose of the sacrament of reconciliation with the church, the seal does not attach.
In this case the girl confessed for what she perceived as sinful omissions on her part, and in doing so implicated someone else in a much greater sin. If the parents’ story is accurate, the priest royally screwed up and the diocese needs to do something with him... but the anti-Catholic canard that the confessional permits crimes doesn’t work either: she didn’t confess as a means of seeking justice.
It’s a tough case. The jury can’t presume that his refusal to testify is tacit admission, because he also wouldn’t be able to break the seal of the confessional to state if it were true that no such confession ever took place.
But it’s absolutely false that the seal of the confessional only protects the confessor. The very reason that priests stand for the entire community in the first place was so that confessors wouldn’t have to implicate others by their confession. Picture the turmoil that would be created if someone confessed to the entire community that they had an affair with a married person!
You call 911.
The penitent may be required--as a condition for receiving absolution--to place a call to 911 alerting the authorities. Right then and right there. The Confessor certainly may place that same call at the conclusion of the confession. The seal of the confessional applies only to the Confessor. The penitent is free to talk about what has taken place. The Confessor may not, even then, confirm or deny.