The following is from Catholic Education web site.
The sacramental seal is inviolable. Quoting Canon 983.1 of the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism states, "...It is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason" (No. 2490). A priest, therefore, cannot break the seal to save his own life, to protect his good name, to refute a false accusation, to save the life of another, to aid the course of justice (like reporting a crime), or to avert a public calamity. He cannot be compelled by law to disclose a person's confession or be bound by any oath he takes, e.g. as a witness in a court trial. A priest cannot reveal the contents of a confession either directly, by repeating the substance of what has been said, or indirectly, by some sign, suggestion, or action. A Decree from the Holy Office (Nov. 18, 1682) mandated that confessors are forbidden, even where there would be no revelation direct or indirect, to make any use of the knowledge obtained in the confession that would "displease" the penitent or reveal his identity.
(Just as an aside, a great movie which deals with this very topic is Alfred Hitchcock's "I Confess," which deals with a priest who hears a murder confession and then is framed for the murder. As a priest, I was in agony during much of the movie.)
However, a priest may ask the penitent for a release from the sacramental seal to discuss the confession with the person himself or others. For instance, if the penitent wants to discuss the subject matter of a previous confession a particular sin, fault, temptation, circumstance in a counseling session or in a conversation with the same priest, that priest will need the permission of the penitent to do so. For instance, especially with the advent of "face-to-face confession," I have had individuals come up to me and say, "Father, remember that problem I spoke to you about in confession?" I have to say, "Please refresh my memory," or "Do you give me permission to discuss this with you now?"
Or if a priest needs guidance from a more experienced confessor to deal with a difficult case of conscience, he first must ask the permission of the penitent to discuss the matter. Even in this case, the priest must keep the identity of the person secret.
What happens if a priest violates the seal of confession? The Catechism (No. 1467) cites the Code of Canon Law (No. 1388.1) in addressing this issue, which states, "A confessor who directly violates the seal of confession incurs an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if he does so only indirectly, he is to be punished in accord with the seriousness of the offense." From the severity of the punishment, we can clearly see how sacred the sacramental seal of confession is in the eyes of the Church.
Actually, the Church's position in this matter has long-standing credibility. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) produced one of the first comprehensive teachings concerning the Sacrament of Penance. Addressing various problems ranging from abuses to heretical stands against the sacrament, the council defended the sacrament itself, stipulated the need for the yearly sacramental confession of sins and reception of the Holy Eucharist, and imposed disciplinary measures upon priest confessors. The council decreed, "Let the confessor take absolute care not to betray the sinner through word or sign, or in any other way whatsoever. In case he needs expert advice he may seek it without, however, in any way indicating the person. For we decree that he who presumes to reveal a sin which has been manifested to him in the tribunal of penance is not only to be deposed from the priestly office, but also to be consigned to a closed monastery for perpetual penance."
A beautiful story (perhaps embellished with time) which captures the reality of this topic is the life of St. John Nepomucene (1340-93), the vicar general to the Archbishop of Prague. King Wenceslaus IV, described as a vicious, young man who easily succumbed to rage and caprice, was highly suspicious of his wife, the Queen. St. John happened to be the Queen's confessor. Although the king himself was unfaithful, he became increasingly jealous and suspicious of his wife, who was irreproachable in her conduct. Although Wencelaus tortured St. John to force him to reveal the Queen's confessions, he would not. In the end, St. John was thrown into the River Moldau and drowned on March 20, 1393.
Each priest realizes that he is the ordained mediator of a very sacred and precious sacrament. He knows that in the confessional, the penitent speaks not so much to him, but through him to the Lord. Therefore, humbled by his position, the priest knows that whatever is said in confession must remain secret at all costs.
Another interesting side to this question is the obligation of the laity: An interpreter needed for someone to make a confession or anyone who gains knowledge of a confession (such as overhearing someones confession) is also obligated to preserve secrecy (Code of Canon Law, No. 983.2). For such a person to violate the secrecy of another persons confession is a mortal sin and warrants "a just penalty, not excluding excommunication" (No. 1388.2). A person who falsely accuses a priest of breaking the seal of the confession incurs a mortal sin and perhaps other canonical penalties, including excommunication.
Clearly, the Church regards the seal of confession as sacred. Every person whether priest or laity must take the obligation to preserve the secrecy of confession absolutely seriously.
Are they going to take the word of the molester that they confessed?
Are they going to wiretap the confessional booth?
Are they going to hold seances to discover when a priest has heard the confession of a molester?
From what I read, the typical child molester doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong, so why would he confess it? Assuming that he’s even in the habit of going to confession . . .
State thinks it’s bigger, badder and better than God. State needs to be destroyed again, as has happened oh so many times throughout the 2000 year history of Christianity. Good riddance state.
A criminal conspiracy should be treated as such, even when it’s a religion.
The John of Nepomuk story is partly apocryphal. He was apparently murdered by the king after crossing him. However most historians are convinced today that he was not killed over the issue of the secret of the confessional.
Liberals use this to discredit the whole canonization process, pointing out that this error of historical fact within the canonization bull renders the whole process untrustworthy.
The Church has never claimed infallibility regarding historical facts in the official lives of saints.
Whether the very act of canonizing enjoys infallibility or not is a theological dispute that has never been officially resolved. Some very orthodox and faithful theologians say, no, canonizations do not enjoy infallibility. (After all, they are fundamentally liturgical decisions and liturgy belongs to discipline, not doctrine. The Church can make mistakes about liturgy, witness the decision to undertake excessively far-reaching reforms after Vatican II.()
It’s a slippery slope. Expect priests to report sex crimes against children and people will start asking why Penn State faculty don’t have to.
I wonder what else they’d have to report them for:
From “The Commitments”
Steve Clifford: [in confessional] Used to, when I studied I would sing hymns, but now all I can sing is “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Marvin Gaye
Father Molloy: Percy Sledge.
Steve Clifford: What?
Father Molloy: It was Percy Sledge did that particular song. I have the album.
Steve Clifford: Oh...
“Choose now which master you will serve ...”
This is just a crude attack on the Catholic church. If they were serious about it, accommodations could be made to “improve the situation”, but without breaking the confessional.
“A priest may ask the penitent for a release from the sacramental seal to discuss the confession with the person himself or others.” (But must still conceal their identity.)
So I imagine a process could be created with an emphasis on helping the victim, that would be to some extent dependent on the cooperation of the sex offender.
The logical problem would be to prevent a chain of evidence leading back to the confessional and the offender. If that could be done, with very strict rules, it would both protect the confessional and help the victim.
In 5th grade, in Sister Saint Catherine’s class, she warned us this would happen within our lifetime. The woman was prophetic. Gay marriage, abortion and the like! We have seen many other predictions of hers come true. This one is really important. It is a promise between a confessor and the person confessing that it will remain private. Let us see if the ordained men in this case stand upto the test.
We are coming to a time when to be a christian is going to be a crime. This is one thing the sister forcast. We will be held accountable for making one of them feel uncomfortable in their wrong doing. Perhaps we will get jail time or even worse. It appears it is only years away. In certain circles, even now, you can be in trouble for saying homosexuality is wrong. And abortion, the killing of babies, that is now concidered perfectly acceptable. What next? Whatever they think of. About 1960, people changed. From then until now you can perceive the change happening. Little by little, something eroded decency. Morals are gone. People do not go to church anymore. Wait until it starts. I bet the first thing the people will do is start attending church again. They will think that God will forget all the years of inattentiveness. But will he? Would you?
The most likely result is that politicians and teachers will stop going to confession.
Moral absolutes and homosexual agenda ping.
There is a huge hotbed of pedophile defenders on this thread, defending practitioners of the perversion as if opposing pedophelia was an attack on catholicism. Even when the defenders of children are themselves Catholic.
Ah, the government. The only folks who would tell people, in effect, “I’m going to order you to do something that’ll get you fired” and not expect to be laughed at.
And of course, the priest would be compelled to report any sin confessed to him that has been defined by the Government as a crime. This is an attack on the rights of everyone who has committed an act that might be construed as a crime. This is fascism.