"Grace operates within the secrecy of the confessional miracles of which only and the angels will be witnesses," he added.
Before turning to his prepared text, Pope Francis emphasized the gravity of the internal forum: "This is not a nonsense expression: it is said seriously. The internal forum is an internal forum, and cannot come out into the open."
"I say this because I have realized that some groups in the Church, appointees, superiors, let us say – mix the two things and take decisions made in the internal forum for those taken in the external one, and vice versa. Please, this is a sin!"
The pope's discussion of the blurring of the distinction between the internal and external fora would appear to be aimed at religious superiors and seminary formators.
This "is a sin against the dignity of the person who trusts the priest, who expresses their own reality to ask for forgiveness, and then uses it to put things in order for a group or a movement, perhaps – I don't know, I am making it up – perhaps even a new congregation, I don't know. But the internal forum is the internal forum. And it is sacred. This I wanted to say, because I am concerned about this," Francis stated.
Francis then explained that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded the sacramental seal with all its moral and juridical strength: "Reconciliation itself is a good that the wisdom of the Church has always safeguarded with all her moral and legal force with the sacramental seal. Although not always understood by the modern mentality, it is indispensable for the sanctity of the sacrament and for the freedom of conscience of the penitent; who must be certain, at any time, that the sacramental conversation will remain in the secrecy of the confessional, between one's conscience that opens to grace, and God, with the necessary mediation of the priest."