Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary, says the seal of confession is not like professional secrecy kept by doctors.
Because it is a “sacramental act,” the sacrament of reconciliation “must be protected in the name of religious freedom,” said Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary of the Catholic Church, in an interview with Acistampa on October 15.
Cardinal Piacenza, who heads one of the three Vatican tribunals, stressed that everything said during confession was therefore “under an absolutely inviolable seal.”
The priest cannot share the information “because it is given to God alone,” the Italian prelate insisted. This also applies to the “case where, during a confession […] a minor reveals that he or she has been abused,” he explained. Nevertheless, the seal does not prevent the confessor from “strongly” recommending that the child report the abuse.
Cardinal Piacenza also explained that the analogy between the secrecy of confession and the professional secrecy of doctors, lawyers, etc. should be avoided “at all costs” because in the case of confession, “taking possession of what belongs to God would be sacrilege,” not a simple exception.
Furthermore, he feared that people would no longer go to confession if their “trust in the seal was lost,” which would, he said, “cause very serious damage to souls.”
During the long history of the Church, various priests have given their lives rather than break the seal of confession. Learn about some of these martyrs here:
Part 1: Martyrs of the secrecy of Confession: The general wanted to know if they’d plotted against him
Part 2: Martyrs of the secrecy of Confession: What had the prisoners revealed?
Part 3: Martyrs of the secrecy of Confession: Is my wife being unfaithful?
Part 4: Martyrs of the secrecy of Confession: Would one priest betray another?
Part 5: Martyrs of the secrecy of Confession: His high-profile penitent caught the authorities’ eye
Part 6: Martyrs of the secrecy of Confession: How many beatings would he take?