The seal of Confession is so important and sacred that a priest would be automatically excommunicated under Canon Law for directly revealing the contents of a Confession.
The sacramental seal is absolutely inviolable and “admits no exceptions” — even if the intention was to prevent an imminent evil or serious crime, said Mgr Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court dealing with matters of conscience.
Not even the death of the penitent can release the confessor from the obligation to maintain the seal, he added.
The Catholic Church has always given special importance to the confidential nature of administering the sacrament of penance, the monsignor wrote in an essay, published in Italian, in the Polish journal, Teka Komisji Prawniczej, in 2014. The penitentiary sponsored a conference at the Vatican the same year on “the confessional seal and pastoral privacy.”
Since the seal has its origin and foundation “in the truth and transcendence of God,” he wrote, “only God can open and reveal the secret that the seal encloses.”
Picture: A young Catholic goes to Confession. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn).