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Question: Should we legislate confidentiality between priest and parishioner?
yes - 5 (41.7%)
no - 6 (50%)
I have no opinion - 1 (8.3%)
Total Voters: 12

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Author Topic: Penance?  (Read 1021 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 20, 2005, 05:14:20 PM »

The Mystery of Penance



What about in our churches? Should there be a legal code of ethics put in place that prevents priests from disclosing confidential information of their parishioners?

In other words should priests be held legally accountable for breaching the confidentiality between themselves and members of their parish?

The secrecy of the Mystery of Penance is considered an unquestionable rule in the entire Orthodox Church. Theologically, the need to maintain the secrecy of confession comes from the fact that the priest is only a witness before God. One could not expect a sincere and complete confession if the penitent has doubts regarding the practice of confidentiality. Betrayal of the secrecy of confession will lead to canonical punishment of the priest.


« Last Edit: June 20, 2005, 05:14:51 PM by Achilles » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2005, 05:53:27 PM »

In other words should priests be held legally accountable for breaching the confidentiality between themselves and members of their parish?

Well, what is discussed by the priest and parishioner is already privileged, so it can't be used in court, and a priest who violates the seal of the confessional will likely be defrocked, so I'm not sure what more you think needs to be done. Sanctions for revealing privileged information (such as between doctor/patient, attorney/client, or clergyman/parishioner) are a civil matter, not a criminal one.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2005, 05:54:52 PM by Beayf » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2005, 06:49:16 PM »

The so-called "seal of confession" has not always existed in Christianity. In the earlier days, when members committed more serious sins and wanted to return to the church they had to make a public confession, go through penances in the church, then receive absolution from the bishop.

In the medieval ages, lists were made up for penances. So if you committ X sin you had to do X days of fasting on bread and water, this practice was started in the west and later developed in the whole indulgences thing (so you say a prayer and it had 100 days as an indulgence, so that prayer was equal to 100 days of penance). Of course, this completely negated the ascetic struggle and the Orthodox rightly say.
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