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Shiningstar

Sincere question regarding confession

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Shiningstar    1
Shiningstar

From what I have gathered, a priest is not allowed to go to the police about any confessions of crimes. What I honestly don't understand is how this is just at all. While it is not the fault of the priest that the crime has been committed or will be committed, is it still not their duty to help protect other people by informing the police?

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CatherineM    6,165
CatherineM

Priests don't hear confessions for themselves. They are a channel to God, who has given them the power and authority to forgive our sins on God's behalf. It's important for us to know that our sins won't be revealed in order to give us the courage to confess. 

It may seem brutal to those who don't understand the theology at work here, but a priest's bottom line has to be caring more for someone's soul and their eternal life than for their brief temporal life. 

Priest's can and do urge people to turn themselves in for committing a crime, even to the point at times of refusing to give a person absolution. However, they will never break the seal of the confessional because that puts their own soul in danger. Eternity is bigger than the worries of our time on this planet, but that can be hard to visualize while we're still on this side. 

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Luigi    3,347
Luigi

Lawyers have the same relationship with their clients. I have a friend who's a lawyer. I asked her, "Do you ever ask your client, 'Louie, did you commit the crime the police have charged you with?'" My friend said, "Oh, no! We never ask! It might influence our defense strategies or our commitment." I made the point that if Louie is out there robbing banks, she has money in banks, so he might steal her money. Or if Louie's selling drugs, he might be selling drugs to people she knows. But she insists that the confidentiality between her and her client is more important. 

Doctors have the same relationship with their patients. And in fact, HIPPA now mandates that doctors NOT share medical information (except with other medical personnel, on a need-to-know basis) even if it could harm other people. So a doctor who diagnoses a patient as HIV-positive is prohibited by law from sharing that information with the patient's spouse or significant other, even though the silence/confidentiality may lead to another person becoming infected. 

Lots of professionals maintain the client's confidentiality - counselors, therapists, I think even accountants. 

CatherineM says, "It may seem brutal to those who don't understand the theology at work here..." and that's true. But in these other cases, there's not even any theology at work. Talk to your professional friends who maintain their clients' confidentiality and ask them if it isn't their duty to protect other people by informing the police. 

Edited by Luigi

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