Confidentiality and Disclosure in Pastoral Conduct

1. Although the sacrament of confession may be an occasion for counseling or direction within the internal forum, the seal is to be protected as absolutely inviolate, and the distinction of the external and internal fora is to be preserved most strictly (see cc. 983-984 and #5.4.1 Penance in General).

2. Apart from cases that require reporting (#2.1.5 Reporting Allegations of Misconduct, Abuse and Neglect), clergy, employees and volunteers who are authorized to provide any kind of service or function on behalf of the Church are obliged to observe appropriate confidentiality. When bound by Church law, they must observe secrecy of office (cc. 1455 and 471, 1º).

    It pertains for the competent administrators of parishes, schools, agencies and other institutions of the diocese to establish and communicate norms for observing appropriate confidentiality within them.

3. When civil law requires the release of confidential material obtained outside of sacramental confession regarding a person, or an attempt is made to do so by a government agency or a non government source (such as civil attorneys or pursuant to a legal action), the diocesan legal counsel must be contacted before any action is taken.

4.    When disclosure of information about a person obtained outside of sacramental confession is not required by civil law but is advisable for the benefit of that person or the common good, counselors and directors are to consult with supervisory personnel. The diocesan legal counsel should be consulted.

5.    Counselors and spiritual directors are advised to clarify the extent and the limits of confidentiality to those whom they counsel or direct.

Date approved by Bishop

Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor