by Bishop Robert Lynch of Saint Petersburg
"There is some strong evidence that I need to do some teaching on the matter of the seal of confession.
"Canon Law on the matter of the seriousness of the Seal of Confession"'Canon 983 #1 The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.
"'Canon 984 #1 Even if every danger of revelation is excluded, a confessor is absolutely forbidden to use knowledge acquired from confession when it might harm the penitent.
"'Canon 1388 #1 A confessor who directly violates the seal of confession incurs an automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if he does so only indirectly, he is to be be punished in accord with the seriousness of the events.
"No confessor is ever, ever allowed to speak of something which occurred within individual confession. Not to his bishop, not to the Holy Father, not even to the penitent outside of and after the confession.
"Violating this simple and straightforward protection brings to bear the most serious punishment the Church holds, automatic excommunication
which can only be lifted by the Holy See itself. There are within the entire law of the Church only five actions which incur this horrible penalty, including violating the seal.
"In recent history, priest confessors have gone to prison and some have been put to death for refusing to violate the seal and reveal something which a penitent said during sacramental confession. We have heard often the expression, 'it is to die for.' Capture that and you will understand the importance of the seal of confession.
"Catholics have a right to expect its strictest observance and every priest has the responsibility, which can be accompanied by a stunning vulnerability, to apply the strictest interpretation. +RNL"