Praeterea, sacerdos debet Deo, cuius minister est, conformari. Sed Deus peccata quae per confessionem panduntur non revelat, sed tegit. Ergo nec sacerdos revelare debet.
Further, The priest should conform himself to God, whose minister he is. But God does not reveal the sins which are made known to him in confession, but hides them. Neither, therefore, should the priest reveal them.
Respondeo dicendum quod in sacramentis ea quae exterius geruntur sunt signa rerum quae interius contingunt. Et ideo confessio qua quis sacerdoti se subiicit, signum est interioris, qua quis Deo subiicitur. Deus autem peccatum illius qui se sibi subiicit per poenitentiam, tegit. Unde et hoc oportet in sacramento poenitentiae significari. Et ideo de necessitate sacramenti est quod quis confessionem celet; et tanquam violator sacramenti peccat qui confessionem revelat. Et praeter hoc sunt: aliae utilitates huius celationis: quia per hoc homines magis ad confessionem attrahuntur; et simplicius etiam peccata confitentur.
I answer that, Those things which are done outwardly in the sacraments are the signs of what takes place inwardly: wherefore confession, whereby a man subjects himself to a priest, is a sign of the inward submission whereby one submits to God. Now God hides the sins of those who submit to him by penance; wherefore this also should be signified in the sacrament of penance, and consequently the sacrament demands that the confession should remain hidden, and he who divulges a confession sins by violating the sacrament. Besides this there are other advantages in this secrecy, because thereby men are more attracted to confession, and confess their sins with greater simplicity.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod quidam dicunt quod sacerdos non tenetur servare sub sigillo confessionis nisi peccata de quibus poenitens emendationem promittit: aliter potest ea dicere ei qui potest prodesse et non obesse.
Reply Obj. 1: Some say that the priest is not bound by the seal of confession to hide other sins than those in respect of which the penitent promises amendment; otherwise he may reveal them to one who can be a help and not a hindrance.
Sed haec opinio videtur erronea: cum sit contra veritatem sacramenti. Sicut enim baptismus est sacramentum quamvis quis fictus accedat, nec est immutatum aliquid propter hoc de essentialibus sacramenti; ita confessio non desinit esse sacramentalis quamvis ille qui confitetur emendationem non proponat. Et ideo nihilo minus sub occulto tenendum est.
But this opinion seems erroneous, since it is contrary to the truth of the sacrament; for just as though the person baptized be insincere, yet his baptism is a sacrament, and there is no change in the essentials of the sacrament on that account, so confession does not cease to be sacramental although he that confesses does not purpose amendment. Therefore, this notwithstanding, it must be held secret.
Nec tamen sigillum confessionis contra caritatem militat. Quia caritas non requirit quod opponatur remedium peccato quod homo nescit. Illud autem quod sub confessione scitur est quasi nescitum: cum illud nesciat ut homo, sed ut Deus.
Neither does the seal of confession militate against charity on that account, because charity does not require a man to find a remedy for a sin which he knows not: and that which is known in confession, is, as it were, unknown, since a man knows it, not as man, but as God.
Tamen aliquod remedium adhibere debet in praedictis casibus, quantum potest sine revelatione confessionis: sicut monendo eos qui confitentur, et aliis diligentiam apponendo ne corrumpantur per haeresim. Potest etiam dicere praelato quod diligentius vigilet super gregem suum: ita tamen quod non dicat aliquid quod verbo vel nutu confitentem prodat.
Nevertheless, in the cases quoted one should apply some kind of remedy, so far as this can be done without divulging the confession, e.g., by admonishing the penitent, and by watching over the others lest they be corrupted by heresy. He can also tell the prelate to watch over his flock with great care, yet so as by neither word nor sign to betray the penitent.
Ad secundum dicendum quod praeceptum de confessione servanda consequitur ipsum sacramentum. Et ideo, sicut praeceptum de confessione sacramentali facienda est de iure divino, et non potest aliqua dispensatione vel iussione humana homo absolvi ab eo, ita nullus ad revelationem confessionis potest ab homine cogi vel licentiari. Unde, si praecipiatur sub poena excommunicationis iam latae quod dicat si aliquid scit de tali peccato, non debet dicere: quia debet aestimare quod intentio praecipientis est, si sciat ut homo. Et si etiam exprimeret de confessione, interrogatus non deberet dicere. Nec excommunicationem incurreret: quia non est subiectus superiori suo nisi ut homo; hoc autem non scit ut homo, sed ut Deus.
Reply Obj. 2: The precept concerning the secret of confession follows from the sacrament itself. Therefore, just as the obligation of making a sacramental confession is of divine law, so that no human dispensation or command can absolve one from it, even so no man can be forced or permitted by another man to divulge the secret of confession. Consequently, if he be commanded under pain of excommunication to be incurred ipso facto, to say whether he knows anything about such and such a sin, he ought not to say it, because he should assume that the intention of the person in commanding him thus, was that he should say what he knew as man. And even if he were expressly interrogated about a confession, he ought to say nothing, nor would he incur the excommunication, for he is not subject to his superior save as a man, and he knows this not as a man, but as God.
Ad tertium dicendum quod homo non adducitur in testimonium nisi ut homo. Et ideo sine laesione conscientiae potest iurare se nescire quod scit tantum ut Deus.
Reply Obj. 3: A man is not called upon to witness except as a man, wherefore without wronging his conscience he can swear that he does not know what he knows only as God.
Similiter etiam potest praelatus sine laesione conscientiae impunitum dimittere peccatum quod scit tantum ut Deus, vel sine aliquo remedio. Quia non tenetur adhibere remedium nisi eo modo quo ad ipsum refertur. Unde in his quae ad ipsum deferuntur in foro poenitentiae, debet in eodem foro, inquantum potest, adhibere remedium: ut abbas in casu praedicto admoneat eum ut prioratui resignet. Vel, si noluerit, potest ex aliqua alia occasione absolvere eum a cura prioratus: ita tamen quod omnis suspicio vitetur de confessionis revelatione.
In like manner, a superior can, without wronging his conscience, leave a sin unpunished which he knows only as God, or he may forbear to apply a remedy, since he is not bound to apply a remedy except according as it comes to his knowledge. Wherefore with regard to matters which come to his knowledge in the tribunal of penance, he should apply the remedy, as far as he can, in the same court: thus as to the case in point, the abbot should advise the prior to resign his office, and if the latter refuse, he can absolve him from the priorship on some other occasion, yet so as to avoid all suspicion of divulging the confession.
Ad quartum dicendum quod ex multis aliis causis redditur aliquis indignus ad praelationis officium quam ex peccato: sicut ex defectu scientiae vel aetatis, vel alicuius huiusmodi. Et ideo, qui contradicit, nec suspicionem de crimine facit, nec confessionem revelat.
Reply Obj. 4: A man is rendered unworthy of ecclesiastical preferment by many other causes besides sin, for instance, by lack of knowledge, age, or the like: so that by raising an objection one does not raise a suspicion of crime or divulge the secret of confession.
Utrum sigillum confessionis se extendat ad alia quam illa quae sunt de confessione
Whether the seal of confession extends to other matters than those which have reference to confession?
Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod sigillum confessionis se extendat ad alia quam illa quae sunt de confessione. Quia de confessione non sunt nisi peccata. Sed aliquando cum peccatis alia multa quis narrat, quae ad confessionem non pertinent. Ergo, cum illa sacerdoti dicantur ut Deo, videtur quod etiam ad illa sigillum confessionis se extendat.
Objection 1: It would seem that the seal of confession extends to other matters besides those which have reference to confession. For sins alone have reference to confession. Now sometimes besides sins other matters are told which have no reference to confession. Therefore, since such things are told to the priest as to God, it seems that the seal of confession extends to them also.
Praeterea, aliquando aliquis dicit alicui aliquod secretum, et ille recipit, sub sigillo confessionis. Ergo sigillum confessionis se extendit ad illa quae non sunt de confessione.
Obj. 2: Further, sometimes one person tells another a secret, which the latter receives under the seal of confession. Therefore, the seal of confession extends to matters having no relation to confession.
Sed contra, sigillum confessionis est aliquid annexum sacramentali confessioni. Sed ea quae annexa sunt alicui sacramento, non se extendunt ultra sacramentum illud. Ergo sigillum confessionis non se extendit nisi ad ea de quibus est confessio.
On the contrary, The seal of confession is connected with sacramental confession. But those things which are connected with a sacrament do not extend outside the bounds of the sacrament. Therefore, the seal of confession does not extend to matters other than those which have reference to sacramental confession.
Respondeo dicendum quod sigillum confessionis directe non se extendit nisi ad illa de quibus est sacramentalis confessio. Sed indirecte id quod non cadit sub sacramentali confessione, etiam ad sigillum confessionis pertinet: sicut illa per quae posset peccator vel peccatum deprehendi. Nihilominus tamen alia summo studio sunt celanda: tum propter scandalum; tum propter pronitatem quae ex consuetudine accidere posset.
I answer that, The seal of confession does not extend directly to other matters than those which have reference to sacramental confession, yet indirectly matters also which are not connected with sacramental confession are affected by the seal of confession, those, for instance, which might lead to the discovery of a sinner or of his sin. Nevertheless, these matters also must be most carefully hidden, both on account of scandal and to avoid leading others into sin through their becoming familiar with it.
Et per hoc patet responsio ad primum.
This suffices for the reply to the first objection.
Ad secundum dicendum quod aliquis non debet de facili aliquid recipere hoc modo. Si tamen recipiat, tenetur ex promissione hoc modo celare ac si in confessione haberet: quamvis sub sigillo confessionis non habeat.
Reply Obj. 2: A confidence ought not easily to be accepted in this way: but if it be done the secret must be kept in the way promised, as though one had the secret in confession, though not under the seal of confession.
Utrum solum sacerdos sigillum confessionis habeat
Whether the priest alone is bound by the seal of confession?
Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod non solum sacerdos sigillum confessionis habeat. Quia aliquando aliquis confitetur sacerdoti per interpretem, necessitate urgente. Sed interpres, ut videtur, tenetur confessionem celare. Ergo etiam non-sacerdos aliquid sub sigillo confessionis habet.
Objection 1: It would seem that not only the priest is bound by the seal of confession. For sometimes a priest hears a confession through an interpreter, if there be an urgent reason for so doing. But it seems that the interpreter is bound to keep the confession secret. Therefore, one who is not a priest knows something under the seal of confession.
Praeterea, aliquando aliquis in casu necessitatis potest laico confiteri. Sed ille tenetur peccata celare: cum sibi dicantur sicut Deo. Ergo non solum sacerdos sigillum confessionis habet.
Obj. 2: Further, it is possible sometimes in cases of urgency for a layman to hear a confession. But he is bound to secrecy with regard to those sins, since they are told to him as to God. Therefore, not only the priest is bound by the seal of confession.
Praeterea, aliquando aliquis se sacerdotem fingit ut conscientiam alicuius exploret per hanc fraudem. Et ille etiam, ut videtur, peccat si confessionem revelet. Ergo non solum sacerdos sigillum confessionis habet.
Obj. 3: Further, it may happen that a man pretends to be a priest, so that by this deceit he may know what is on another’s conscience: and it would seem that he also sins if he divulges the confession. Therefore, not only the priest is bound by the seal of confession.
Sed contra: Solus sacerdos minister est huius sacramenti. Sed sigillum confessionis est annexum huic sacramento. Ergo solus sacerdos habet sigillum confessionis.
On the contrary, A priest alone is the minister of this sacrament. But the seal of confession is connected with this sacrament. Therefore, the priest alone is bound by the seal of confession.
Praeterea, homo tenetur ea quae in confessione audit celare, si non scit ea ut homo, sed ut Deus. Sed solus sacerdos est minister Dei. Ergo solus sacerdos tenetur occultare.
Further, The reason why a man is bound to keep secret what he hears in confession is because he knows them not as man, but as God. But the priest alone is God’s minister. Therefore, he alone is bound to secrecy.
Respondeo dicendum quod sigillum confessionis competit sacerdoti inquantum est minister huius sacramenti: quod nihil est aliud quam debitum confessionem celandi, sicut clavis est potestas absolvendi. Tamen, sicut aliquis qui non est sacerdos, in, aliquo casu participat aliquid de actu clavis, dum confessionem audit propter necessitatem; ita etiam participat aliquid de actu sigilli confessionis, et tenetur celare; quamvis, proprie loquendo, sigillum confessionis non habeat.
I answer that, The seal of confession affects the priest as minister of this sacrament: which seal is nothing else than the obligation of keeping the confession secret, even as the key is the power of absolving. Yet as one who is not a priest in a particular case has a kind of share in the act of the keys (when he hears a confession in a case of urgency) so also does he have a certain share in the act of the seal of confession, and is bound to secrecy, though properly speaking he is not bound by the seal of confession.
Et per hoc patet solutio ad obiecta.
This suffices for the replies to the objections.
Utrum de licentia confitentis possit sacerdos peccatum quod habet sub sigillo confessionis, alteri prodere
Whether by the penitent’s permission a priest may reveal to another a sin which he knows under the seal of confession?
Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod de licentia confitentis non possit sacerdos peccatum quod habet sub sigillo confessionis, alteri prodere. Quod enim non potest superior, non potest inferior. Sed Papa non posset aliquem licentiare quod peccatum quod habet in confessione, alteri proderet. Ergo nec ille qui confitetur potest ipsum licentiare.
Objection 1: It would seem that a priest may not, by the penitent’s permission, reveal to another a sin which he knows under the seal of confession. For an inferior may not do what his superior may not. Now the Pope cannot give permission for anyone to divulge a sin which he knows through confession. Neither, therefore, can the penitent give him such a permission.
Praeterea, illud quod est institutum propter bonum commune, non potest ex arbitrio unius mutari. Sed celatio confessionis est instituta propter bonum totius Ecclesiae, ut homines confidentius ad confessionem accedant. Ergo ille qui confitetur non potest licentiare sacerdotem ad dicendum.
Obj. 2: Further, that which is instituted for the common good of the Church cannot be changed at the will of an individual. Now the secrecy of confession was instituted for the good of the whole Church, in order that men might have greater confidence in approaching the confessional. Therefore, the penitent cannot allow the priest to divulge his confession.
Praeterea, si possit licentiari sacerdos, videtur dari pallium malitiae malis sacerdotibus: quia possent praetendere sibi licentiam datam, et sic impune peccarent. Quod est inconveniens. Et sic videtur quod non possit a confitente licentiari.
Obj. 3: Further, if the priest could grant such a permission, this would seem to palliate the wickedness of bad priests, for they might pretend to have received the permission and so they might sin with impunity, which would be unbecoming. Therefore, it seems that the penitent cannot grant this permission.
Praeterea, ille cui iste revelabit, non habebit peccatum hoc sub sigillo confessionis. Et sic poterit peccatum publicari quod iam deletum est. Quod est inconveniens. Ergo non potest licentiare.
Obj. 4: Further, the one to whom this sin is divulged does not know that sin under the seal of confession. Thus he may publish a sin which is already blotted out, which is unbecoming. Therefore, this permission cannot be granted.
Sed contra: Superior potest mittere peccatorem cum litteris ad inferiorem sacerdotem de voluntate ipsius. Ergo de voluntate confitentis potest sacerdos peccatum revelare alteri.
On the contrary, If the sinner consent, a superior may refer him by letter to an inferior priest. Therefore, with the consent of the penitent the priest may reveal a sin of his to another.
Praeterea, qui potest aliquid facere per se, potest etiam per alterum facere. Sed confitens potest peccatum suum quod fecit, per se alteri revelare. Ergo potest per sacerdotem facere.
Further, Whosoever can do a thing of his own authority, can do it through another. But the penitent can by his own authority reveal his sin to another. Therefore, he can do it through the priest.
Respondeo dicendum quod duo sunt propter quae tenetur sacerdos peccatum occultare: primo, et principaliter, quia ipsa occultatio est de essentia sacramenti, inquantum scit illud ut Deus, cuius vicem gerit ad confessionem; alio modo, propter scandalum vitandum. Potest autem confitens facere quod sacerdos illud quod sciebat ut Deus, sciat etiam ut homo: quod facit dum licentiat eum ad dicendum. Et ideo, si dicat, non frangit sigillum confessionis. Tamen debet vitare scandalum dicendo: ne fractor sigilli praedicti reputetur.
I answer that, There are two reasons for which the priest is bound to keep a sin secret: first and chiefly, because this very secrecy is essential to the sacrament, insofar as the priest knows that sin as it is known to God, whose place he holds in confession: second, in order to avoid scandal. Now the penitent can make the priest know, as a man, what he knew before only as God knows it, and he does this when he allows him to divulge it: so that if the priest does reveal it, he does not break the seal of confession. Nevertheless he should beware of giving scandal by revealing the sin, lest he be deemed to have broken the seal.