Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Spiritually that is the very intention of Orthodox, however the legalities and circumstances change politically from place to place, time to time. In Ethiopia for instance, we in the Ethiopian Orthodox have had a hard time re-instituting the Confession because the horrendous history of the past 50 years of blood civil war and strife has tainted people's view of their Confessors. There are many horror stories but in reality they are a minority. It was not that all the Ethiopian clergy were suddenly revealing all their confessed secrets to the military or government or warlords, its just that those few who did made it look untrustworthy as a whole to the masses.
When so many sociopolitical and family institutions broke apart, the people have had a hard time assessing what remains true and what has become dangerous. Its not that priests were revealing secrets so much as just seeing priests and clerics working with the dangerous government or warlords, even if innocently or by coercion, tainted the trust relationship. It was (and in some places remains) hard to really be able to look at the world with any sense, so the sensibility of priests is equally up for grabs in such a mixed up world. The Ethiopian Church did not sell her people out so much as the governments and warlords took over civil society, and the Church was left scrambling to survive. Anything public about the Church in such an environment was viewed with understandable skepticism and doubt. The people never doubted the Liturgy, but when it came to giving up secrets in Confession that was another matter entirely. However, Ethiopians are also quite secretive by nature, which has of course influenced people's further mistrust considering the circumstances of chaos and fear that prevailed for so long (and in many ways continue on as ever and even more so)
When even one or two priests (and yes, even ranking Bishops) betrayed the flock to the mercy (well lack thereof
) of the warlords and madmen, the people couldn't help but feel apprehensive. How has this manifested itself in the Ethiopian community? Even very pious parishioners who seldom miss Divine Liturgy themselves rarely Commune because they Confess even more sporadically because the whole trust relationship had been threatened. It is a shame really, the priests are actually quite genuine, and we have no more bad apples than any other jurisdictions.
However, what Ethiopian Orthodox does have is a very recent memory of war and violence, and in war often all bets are off.
I wonder if some of our Eastern Orthodox/Russian Orthodox brethren and sistren have similar histories and experiences with the Office of Confession?