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11. The Seal of Confession

1. The priest who hears confessions is most strictly boundto hold in perfect secrecy all sins confessed to him. Thisobligation incumbent on the confessor is called the "seal ofconfession."

2. The seal extends to everything connected withthe sins confessed. That is, it obliges the confessor to completesilence about any circumstance that might reveal, or cause to besuspected, the identity of the sinner who has confessed to him.

3. The priest hearing a confession, and he alone, is boundby the seal of confession. One who overhears a penitent accusinghimself, is seriously bound to secrecy, but is not, strictlyspeaking, under the seal of confession.

4. If the penitent, for good and serious reason,voluntarily asks the priest to reveal to another what he confesses,the priest is freed from the seal in the precise matter indicatedby the request. Yet the priest will not, except under most pressingneed, accede to such a request on the part of the penitent. Thepriest will rather require the penitent to tell him again, apartfrom the sacrament of penance, what he wishes to be revealed. Andthus there will be no danger of scandal, no suspicion that thepriest has broken the sacred seal.

5. What a priest knows from a source other than confessiondoes not come under the seal. Thus, if a priest saw a man commit arobbery, he could testify to the fact, even though the robber had,in the meantime, confessed the sin to him. For while the sin asconfessed is under the seal, the sin as observed apart fromconfession is not under the seal.

"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Whoever wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens. "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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