De Mattei: Martyrs and Violators of the Confessional Seal | 12/30/2018 | Staff
emilia (Posted by) Level 3
December 29, 2018

The inviolability of the secrecy of the confessional is one of the pillars of Catholic morality. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents' lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the "sacramental seal," because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains "sealed" by the sacrament.” (n.1467) The New Code of Canon Law, inflicts latae sententiae excommunication on the priest who violates the sacramental seal (Canon 1388 - §1). For the Church no reason whatsoever can justify the violability of the seal of the confessional, since, as St. Thomas explains “the priest has knowledge of those sins, not as a man, but as God knows them”. (Summa Theologiae, Suppl., 11,1ad2).

Catholic - States - Secrecy - Confessional - Alexandre

The Catholic States have always protected the secrecy of the confessional. Alexandre Dumas, in his historical novel, The Poisoner, recounts an episode from Tractatus de confessariis by the Archbishop of Lisbon, Rodrigo da Cunha y Silva (1577-1643): “A Catalonian born in the city of Barcelona, having been condemned to death for a murder committed and acknowledged by him, at the hour of confession, refused to confess. They tried many times to convince him, but he defended himself so strenuously as to engender in others the conviction that such a rebellion originated from the agitation in his soul caused by impending death. St. Thomas of Villanova (1488- 1555), Archbishop of Valencia was notified of the situation. The Hierarch then decided to make every effort to induce the criminal to go to confession, so that he wouldn’t lose his soul as well as his body....
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