Everything that is said in the denominational box is subject to the denominational seal, but if a child mentions that they have been abused there, “that`s the kind of thing where you would invite them to talk to you outside of confession,” Bishop O`Kelly said. From the moment a person makes the sign of the cross and begins “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned” until the last words of absolution, the information exchanged between the priest and the penitent is protected by the sacramental seal. Even if a confession is made in a less formal atmosphere or in a less formal way, when a priest gives absolution, what he acquits is under the sacramental seal, so as never to be revealed by him. Another interesting aspect of this question is the obligation of the laity to maintain the seal of confession: an interpreter who is necessary for someone to make a confession, or anyone who becomes aware of a confession (e.g. hears a person`s confession) is also bound to secrecy (Code of Canon Law, #983.2). For such a person, violating the secret of another person`s confession is a mortal sin and justifies “a just punishment that does not exclude excommunication” (#1388.2). In addition, a person who falsely accuses a priest of breaking the seal of confession suffers mortal sin and possibly other canonical punishments, including excommunication. §3 Confessions may not be heard outside a confessional without valid reason. Therefore, the wording of the law contains no explanation of the privilege of the confession unless it shows that the right to a free confession was reserved to these authors. But Sir Edward Coke`s comment is important because it is a statement about the existence of common law privilege in criminal matters. There seems to be no reason to exclude cases of treason other than the opinion quoted by Sir Edward Coke, for the two cases he cites in support of that view now support it. Gratian, who compiled the edicts of earlier Catholic ecumenical councils and the principles of canon law, published the Decretum around 1151. It contains the following explanation of the law on the seal of confession: “The priest who dares to make known the sins of his penitent shall be deposed.” Gratian goes on to say that the violator of this law should be an ignominious vagabond for life.
 It should be noted that neither the Lateran Canon nor the Decretum Law claim to issue the secret of confession for the first time.  The 15th century English canonist William Lyndwood speaks of two reasons why a priest is obliged to keep a confession secret, the first is because of the sacrament, because it is almost (almost) part of the essence of the sacrament to keep confession secret.  [clarification needed] There does not appear to be a precise or clearly defined principle in Scots law that protects confessions to the clergy from disclosure. But there seems to be a recognized trend towards such protection, at least to a limited extent. It should be noted that none of the following works mention sacramental confession as practiced by Catholics, which could be considered by the courts as a special claim for protection. In the case of Anderson and Marshall, cited by Hume as 1728, Hume tells us that Anderson made a confession in the presence of a minister and two bailies. Although Anderson, he tells us, sent the minister to clear his conscience, evidence of the confession was obtained at Anderson`s trial. Hume is negative about including this confession as evidence, because the admission of such evidence tends to deprive a prisoner of facilitating confession to a person in a spiritual capacity. But he goes on to say (S. 350) that there is no privilege on the part of “surgeons, physicians, or clergymen, even in respect of circumstances of a secret nature revealed to them in the performance of their duties,” He believes that no clergyman will probably ever be asked to reveal a confession made to him by a detained prisoner.
He goes on to give the hypothetical case of a person who follows a criminal course and then, suddenly seized with his conscience, makes a confession to the pastor of his parish, and finally relapses and completes his crime. He considers that in such a case, if the crime is committed, the pastor could, for reasons of public expediency, be obliged to testify this confession, which was made at the previous stage, as important in the history of the crime. But he does not cite authority. Note that canon 983 refers to the “betrayal of the penitent.” In other words, there may be cases where a priest mentions a confession he has heard, but in a way that does not reveal the identity of the person who made it. Seminary professors, for example, can give their moral theology students examples of concrete ethical situations they have encountered while listening to confession. As long as there is no way for the listener to conclude who made that particular confession, the seal of the confessional remains intact. I myself had a wonderful elderly professor of theology years ago who regularly repeated confessions he had heard along the way to give us real examples of difficult moral situations. But we had no way of knowing if he had heard a particular confession last week or ten years ago, in his parish or across the country at a retreat he had given. The professor also removed all the peculiarities that would otherwise have allowed us to identify the penitent.
In this way, we were able to benefit from his years of experience in counseling without violating the sacramental seal. In some districts, such as Durham and Chester, bishops exercised temporal jurisdiction. Even in the king`s courts, as Lord Coke points out, judges were often priests before Innocent IV forbade priests to act as judges. Pollock and Maitland`s “History of the Laws of England” gives as the sampling date 16 July 1195, when an archbishop, three bishops and three archdeacons sat in the Court of King`s Bench. The same book tells us that “it is through the papal clergy that our English common law is transformed from a crude mass of customs into an articulated system, and when the `papal clergy,` which long obeys the orders of the pope, no longer sit as chief justices of the royal court, the golden age of common law is over.” It is highly unlikely that at a time when the systematization of the common law by the “papal clergy” was progressing, a rule arose that would have forced the disclosure of confession. Finally, it should be noted that, throughout the period leading up to the Reformation, there is not a single reported case, manual or commentary that indicates that the laws of evidence did not respect the seal of confession. These reasons seem sufficient to conclude that the seal was considered sacred under English common law before the Reformation. Sir Robert Phillimore, in his work on canon (Anglican) law, makes a clear statement to this effect. It seems interesting to note that the use of a confessional makes all this a contentious point for priests who could face imprisonment for refusing to violate the confessional seal. So I will suggest that we, the penitents, go ahead and do it. 2/ There is a serious need, that is, when, in view of the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available to hear the confessions of individuals within a reasonable time, so that penitents are compelled to be deprived of sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long period without fault on their part.
Sufficient necessity is not considered given if confessors cannot be present only because of the large number of penitents that may take place on a great feast or pilgrimage. At the same time, in Wilson v. Rastall, as in other cases, reference may be made to a possible extension of this aspect of the law of evidence.