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Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys —

Regarding the seal of Confession, I have read several places where a priest can require,
as condition for absolution, that the penitent agree to turn him/herself in to authorities;
for example, if the person has committed murder.

  • First of all, is this accurate?
  • If so, then can the same be said of adultery?
  • If a man is having an affair but:
    • he confesses it
    • is truly sorry, and
    • does not intend to continue it

  • Can the priest require that the man tell his wife about the affair as a condition of absolution?


  { Can a Confessor require the penitent to turn themselves in as a condition for absolution? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

I do not know about your first question, but I doubt it.

A priest may make restitution, for theft, for instance, as a condition for absolution, and give absolution, which takes effect when the person makes whatever restitution is possible.

As for the affair, no, the priest does not require the man to tell his wife, nor may he require that because it is beyond the bounds of a strictly moral issue and may even harm the marriage.

I should add that there may be extenuating circumstances in which a man could be ordered to confess an affair to his wife, at least in general.

For instance, if he has contracted an STD that is harmful to her, he would need, in justice, to let her know.

Mary Ann
[Related posting]

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