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Question about limits on the confessional...
blaisepascal
I know that if a Catholic confesses a sin to a Priest under the Seal of Confession, the priest can't divulge that information to anyone. If a parishioner confesses to a crime, the priest can't tell the police, for instance.

But what about other ways to use the information?

If teenager Johnny confesses the sin of having consensual, premarital sex with classmate Betty, is Father Ted justified in pressing Betty to confess it as well? Can he take Betty's failure to confess it in account when deciding the penance for Betty's confessed sins?

If Michael confesses the sin of molesting his 12yo niece, can Father Ted keep that in mind when considering Michael's place on the Confirmation School teachers rota?

If Barbara confesses to embezzling thousands of dollars from the company where she works as an accountant, is it reasonable for Father Ted to call in an auditor for the books Barbara has been keeping for the parish?

Would these be reasonable uses of the confessions, or would such extra-confessional usage be considered out-of-bounds?

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I don't really have the head right now, nor the tools, to research properly, but i'm pretty sure that there is case law that requires priests to break confessional privilege and/or requires such privileged confessions to be subpoenaed. I think that applies to at least Roman Catholic and Anglican confessions.

Well, yeah, the US Government and States don't recognize the seal of the confessional, I know that. I also suspect that many priests have spent time in jail for contempt of court over the issue.

But that's not really the topic of my enquiry.

Well, yeah, the US Government and States don't recognize the seal of the confessional, I know that.

All fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have enacted statutory privileges providing that at least some communications between clergyman and parishioners are privileged.
http://web.archive.org/web/20071007233825/http://www.clsnet.org/clrfPages/pubs/clergyPriv.php

Grew up Catholic, was seriously considering the priesthood in high school. What I remember from then is, the seal of the confessional was supposed to be inviolate, absolutely and completely. But I don't know about state or federal law, what they have to say about it.

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