The Sacrament of Penance is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. It is used to cleanse oneself of sins. It is an expression of repentance, sorrow for sins and reconciliation with By God. It ends with the confessor imposing penance and granting (or in extreme cases not granting) absolution. The sacrament of Penance occurs in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, among others. It is considered a sacrament of healing, as is the Anointing of the Sick. A Catholic is required to go to confession at least once a year during the Easter season.

The sacrament of penance is a form of confession of sins before God. However, it takes place through a confessor. In the case of ChurchA Catholic confessor is a priest who sits in a confessional. Many people who go to confession feel uncomfortable with the fact that they have to confess their sins to another person. It should be remembered, however, that priests are bound by the secrecy of confession, which categorically prohibits them from informing others of the sins committed by the person confessing. 

When a priest can break the secrecy of confession

Can a priest break the secrets of confession? Absolutely not. Even if he is informed during confession that criminal acts have been committed, he has no right to reveal the secret. The whole point of the sacrament of Penance is based on the trust between the confessor and the confessor.

The secret of confession was introduced in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council. It has survived to this day in an unchanged form. A priest who breaks the secrecy of confession by mentioning by name the person who committed a given sin is punished with excommunication, i.e. exclusion from the Catholic Church by the Pope. If the priest does not mention the person by name, but clearly and deliberately suggests who the person is, he commits a mortal sin.

Confessional secrecy and the law

The secrecy of confession and the penalties prescribed for breaking it are regulated in canon law:
Canon 983. 

§ 1. 

Sacramental secrecy is inviolable; therefore, it is absolutely forbidden for the confessor in words or in any other way and for any reason in anything to betray the penitent.

§ 2. 

The interpreter, if present, also has a duty of secrecy, as well as all others who have in any way obtained from the confession information about sins.

Canon 1386. 

§ 1. 

A confessor who violates directly the sacramental secrecy of confession incurs excommunication latae sententiae, reserved to the Holy See; but when he violates it only indirectly, he should be punished according to the gravity of the offense.

§ 2. 

The interpreter and others referred to in canon 983 § 2 who violate the secret should be punished by a just penalty, not excluding excommunication.

In this case, church law is also respected by the secular organs of the state. During postIn a judicial proceeding, an interrogated priest may not be induced to report facts and events of which he has become aware during the sacrament of penance.