A penitent may seek a priest for listening to his or her confession of sins, declaring genuine sorrow and promising amendment of life together with restitution, where possible, to those wronged. The priest in turn gives counsel, penance, and absolution. It is understood by both that the confession is under the "seal." Under no circumstances may the information given be revealed by the priest, unless the penitent gives permission. The penitent may rely on this implicitly. In some states, the priest may be asked by a court of law to divulge information but must refuse even though this may lead to imprisonment. It would be prudent for those hearing confessions to discover what provisions are legally in force for the protection of such privileged information.
Seal of Confession
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.