Creative Minority Report tells the story of a priest who may have been unjustly accused of a crime another committed–the other being a penitent who confessed his sins to the priest. Pornography was found on the priest’s computer and the priest gave “vague” and inconclusive answers as to why it was there. He was fired from his post, and perhaps defrocked. But someone has come to the priest’s defense, admitting they put the material there–and had confessed it to the priest. Convoluted? Yes. Do we have the whole story? No.
But it does get one thinking about the sanctity and seal of the confessional. Why is the confessional sealed? Why does a priest (or a pastor) swear to never reveal what was confessed? Some suppose it is a matter of integrity, or a matter of encouraging people to confess, to know that the secrets won’t get out.
That is a factor, but the real reason goes much deeper. When the penitent confesses sin, and the pastor/priest pronounces absolution, the sin is gone. It is not just “as if” it never happened. When God forgives, it is gone. The sin is erased, and never happened.
Of course the consequences are not miracled away. If you murdered someone, the victim remains dead. Perhaps even legal restitution needs to be made. But the sin is. The murder is no longer the murderer.
Makes me want to go confess!