Does the Seal of Confession apply to the person confessing?

We know that the priest cannot share anything we have said during the Sacrament of Confession, but are we able to tell others what advice a priest gave to us in the confessional?

“My sisters and I went on a retreat this weekend and each of us went to confession and afterwards, shared with each other what the priest had said. Is that wrong?” asked Mary when she called in to Go Ask Your FatherTM on Relevant Radio.

“No, the penitent is completely free to talk about what they’ve experienced in confession. Obviously there would be the natural bond not to talk about something if the priest would say, ‘This is just for you.” But even then, it’s just like any other advice that one receives that way if one wants to share it because you think it might help someone else. It’s the priest who is bound by the sacramental seal—the priest can reveal nothing of what went on in the confessional,” responded Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father.

“As a matter of fact, I sometimes tell stories in homilies about what priests have told me in Confession because I think it’s helpful to others. Like when I was a young priest, Father Clare … was one of the best confessors I’ve ever encountered,” remembered Msgr. Swetland. “And I was confessing to him—it’s when I worked in the Chancery—and he paused and he looked at this big wooden cross he had in the confessional. And he said to me, “Stuart, sometimes you have to look at the cross and you have to ask Our Lord, ‘Jesus, is it going to be a good day, or are we going to do things your way?’”

“And it was exactly what I needed to hear, because we sometimes forget that Jesus told us that to love in a world full of sin will take the form of the cross. That each day if we’re to follow him, we have to take up our cross each day and follow in his footsteps, so that when were tempted to maybe moan and complain a little about our work or about others that we have to work with or just the work load that we have, we remember that the Lord told us that this is the way it’s going to be and that we should revel in and embrace that as our share in the cross. So, it’s good that you can share the good advice and the experience of grace that you’ve received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.