Does the seal of confession bind the penitent in any way?
Background: Talking with a friend awhile ago I mentioned something I was told in confession. My friend said he was very uncomfortable with this – implying that I was breaking the seal.
Most moralists maintain that the Seal of the confessional only binds the confessor (and anyone else who might overhear the confession – such as a translator or a person standing too close to the confessional or a person in an emergency room), not the penitent. Thus, if one hears something unusual during the sacramental confession, one can ask another priest for guidance, or if one hears something edifying, one can share this with those in need of inspiration.
Prudence, of course, should be one’s guide in this as in all things.
What happens in the sacrament is an intimate conversation between the soul and it’s Savior. Those who regularly and wantonly divulge intimacies were formerly referred to as “twattlers.” Now we call them “reality TV stars” or “celebrities”.
All of that said, there is one really good rule of thumb: Just keep your mouth shut. Hard to go wrong with that one.