Q&A

Can a priest report a sin that hasn't been committed in order to prevent a crime?

By December 26, 2014 6 Comments

Full Question

My deacon said that if a person confessed a sin that was yet to be committed such as killing someone, then the priest was bound by law and conscience to report the uncommitted crime; otherwise he would have to live with a troubled conscience for not having attempted to prevent it. Is this true?

Answer

Under no circumstances is a priest allowed to use “knowledge acquired in confession to the detriment of the penitent” (CIC 984). “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason” (CIC 983).

6 Comments

  • jack says:

    In Louisiana, the priest must notify authorities

  • epifania ingaran nimo says:

    if they want to help us, we need to cut all the crime in this word, you know what you do. In Jesus name….Amen

  • Hiram says:

    and what if the person told the priest in a regular conversation, not as part of his/her confession? would the priest still be bound to respect his vow of silence?

  • Fr Gerard says:

    There is no vow of silence in a regular conversation. I have even reported things told in confidence if it appeared that someone was in danger, but I have always made that clear to the one confi ding. In the Sacrament, there is no freedom to report and that is not possible.
    It is the priest’s duty to tell the confessor that there can be no absolution offered for a planned offence, as that is to make a mockery of God’s mercy. Also, if someone were to confess a serious crime, already committed, part of the Penamce would be to admit their guilt to the authorities so as to bring peace to the victims. If they do not, then there is no intent to reform and God’s Absolution is refused by the penitent. This is within the Seal of the Confessional and could not be revealed..

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