From a reader:
Under stress, my mind goes blank. I find Confession really stressful, so therefore can not mentally absorb the advice of the priest nor remember hardly anything he says afterwards. I feel I am missing a lot of good advice that could be helpful to my spiritual life.
Can I hit the voice memo button on my smart phone and record my Confession so that I can replay it later (just for myself to hear)? [Don’t.] I have not done this yet as I thought it might not be permitted due to the risk of one’s phone being lost, but I do password my phone so I’d be willing to take that small risk. [Bad idea.] I write down my sins to say anyway, so already take the risk of losing my paper (which isn’t password protected). Since writing one’s sins is allowed, I have begun to wonder if it might not be forbidden afterall to record one’s own Confession just for one’s own personal spiritual benefit. [Don’t.] I still have a “funny” feeling about doing that, so perhaps there is another reason if might be forbidden… if it is forbidden. Do you know if it is? [Don’t]
My advice is: Do not record any part of any confession.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
MODIFICATIONS MADE IN THE NORMAE DE GRAVIORIBUS DELICTIS
§ 2. With due regard for § 1, n. 5, also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the more grave delict which consists in the recording, by whatever technical means, or in the malicious diffusion through communications media, of what is said in sacramental confession, whether true or false, by the confessor or the penitent. Anyone who commits such a delict is to punished according to the gravity of the crime, not excluding, if he be a cleric, dismissal or deposition.
The priest, or anyone who over hears a sacramental confession, is bound by the Seal and may not divulge by any means the content. The penitent may not record anything either.
People can and do write sins down. If a person does that I strongly suggest never putting your name on it or making it identifiable. Sometimes a priest must make notes about the content of a confession for the sake of contacting the Apostolic Penitentiary in order to obtain a faculty to lift a censure. In those cases he does everything possible to protect anonymity.
But a voice recording of your confession….
Don’t record any part of a confession.
If you must, ask the priest to repeat what he said so you are clear about it. Make a note if you must.
Recording any part of any confession is a really bad idea.