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Defending the Seal of the Confessional
Posted on the 4th Jul 2019
Forward in Faith thanks Pope Francis for his recent re-affirmation of the absolute inviolability of the Seal of the Confessional. Pope Francis said:
'Reconciliation itself is a benefit that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all her moral and legal might, with the sacramental seal. Although it is not always understood by the modern mentality, it is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the freedom of conscience of the penitent, who must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain within the secrecy of the confessional, between one’s conscience that opens to grace, and God, with the necessary mediation of the priest. The sacramental seal is indispensable and no human power has jurisdiction over it, nor can lay any claim to it.'
We welcome the ‘Note on the importance of the internal forum and the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal’, approved by Pope Francis and published this week, which says that any political or legislative pressure to override this sacramental seal would be ‘a violation of religious freedom’.
The sacrament of Reconciliation can only be the safe space that it must be – not least for the victims and survivors of abuse – if all who avail themselves of it can be confident that what is disclosed in sacramental confession will never be revealed by the priest (thought they remain entirely free to disclose it themselves if and when they feel ready to do so).
Forward in Faith remains committed to defending the Seal. We also support better training for priests for this important ministry of the Church.