Vatican City, Jul 5, 2019 / 07:00 am
This week, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, issued a document defending the sacramental seal, as civil governments in California, Australia, and other places attempt to pass laws that would force priests to reveal what they hear in the confessional.
Piacenza also defended professional confidentiality, including the pontifical secret, and appeared to take aim at the use of leaked Vatican information in the media – suggesting leaks from the Vatican are detrimental to the public good.
"In a time of mass communication, in which all information is 'burned' [leaked] and with it often unfortunately also part of people's lives, it is necessary to re-learn the strength of word, its constructive power, but also its destructive potential," the cardinal warned.
Following a year in which scandals of episcopal misconduct and accountability have combined to create a crisis of confidence in Church leadership in some places, reaction to the application and violation of confidentiality in the Church illustrates the emerging fault lines in a debate between parts of the hierarchy and faithful, in which both sides accept the need for transparency, though often with very different understandings of the word.