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Hasta qué punto está obligado el sacerdote a guardar el secreto de confesión

Hasta qué punto está obligado el sacerdote a guardar el secreto de confesión :
Pregunta:
Estimado Padre: Hace tiempo se publicó la noticia de que un sacerdote católico que se rehusó a identificar al hombre que lo apuñaló durante una confesión por salvaguardar el secreto de confesión. ¿Es esto así? ¿Hasta dónde obliga el secreto de la confesión?

Respuesta:

Estimado:

1. En términos generales

El Código de Derecho Canónico, canon 983,1 dice: ‘El sigilo sacramental es inviolable; por lo cual está terminantemente prohibido al confesor descubrir al penitente, de palabra o de cualquier otro modo, y por ningún motivo’.

En el Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica, n. 1467: ‘Dada la delicadeza y la grandeza de este ministerio y el respeto debido a las personas, la Iglesia declara que todo sacerdote que oye confesiones está obligado a guardar un secreto absoluto sobre los pecados que sus penitentes le han confesado, bajo penas muy severas. Tampoco puede hacer uso de los conocimientos que la confesión le da sobre la vida de los penitentes. Este secreto, que no admite excepción, se llama ‘sigilo sacramental’, porque lo que el penitente ha manifestado al sacerdote queda ‘sellado’ por el sacramento’.

El sigilo obliga a guardar secreto absoluto de todo lo acusado en orden a la absolución (in ordine ad absolutionem), aunque no se obtenga tal absolución o la confesión resulte inválida.

En cambio, no es sacramental y por tanto no impone obligación de sigilo la confesión que se hace para engañar al confesor, sacarle dinero, burlarse, o por cualquier otro motivo.

El sigilo obliga por derecho natural (en virtud del cuasi contrato establecido entre el penitente y el confesor), por derecho divino (en el juicio de la confesión, establecido por Cristo, el penitente es el reo, acusador y único testigo; lo cual supone implícitamente la obligación estricta de guardar secreto) y por derecho eclesiástico (Código de Derecho Canónico, c. 983). Así el sigilo sacramental no puede quebrantarse jamás bajo ningún pretexto, cualquiera que sea el daño privado o público que con ello se pudiera evitar o el bien que se pudiera promover; obliga incluso a soportar el martirio antes que quebrantarlo, como fue el caso de San Juan Nepomuceno. Aquí debe tenerse firme lo que afirmaba Santo Tomás: ‘lo que se sabe bajo confesión es como no sabido, porque no se sabe en cuanto hombre, sino en cuanto Dios’ (In IV Sent., 21,3,1).

¿Qué cae bajo secreto de confesión? Hay que distinguir entre objeto esencial y accidental [1]:

a) Objeto esencial primario: son todos los pecados graves, incluso genéricamente indicados, y los pecados veniales, no en general sino sobre materias concretas. A no ser que tales pecados les sean conocidos por otra vía; pero nunca hable de ellos dando a entender que también los conoce por confesión.

Objeto esencial secundario son todos los demás datos que el penitente manifestó durante la declaración de sus pecados (a no ser que sean hechos públicos) y que puedan resumirse en alguno de estos tres capítulos:

circunstancias del pecado (fin, tiempo, lugar, etc.)
objeto del pecado (por ejemplo, si se acusa de haber hablado mal por el escándalo que dio su vecino en tal o cual materia)
cómplice;
Igualmente es objeto esencial secundario el hecho de haber negado la absolución a tal penitente, la penitencia que le impuso (a menos que sea la más leve que pueda darse), etc.

b) Objeto accidental: son otros datos que pueden causar alguna molestia al penitente, pero que nada tienen que ver con los pecados acusados, por ejemplo, los defectos físicos o psíquicos, etc.

2. ¿Cómo se viola el sigilo sacramental?

El sigilo puede violarse de dos maneras:

a) Directamente: cuando se revela claramente el nombre del penitente y el pecado cometido. Esto incluso si la persona no es conocida por los oyentes (Por ejemplo, si un misionero comenta ante gente que no conoce el lugar de misión de éste, que el jefe de la tribu que está misionando se confesó de un adulterio). No es necesario que diga que lo que está diciendo lo sabe por confesión; para quebrantarlo basta con que sea de hecho así. No admite parvedad de materia.

b) Indirectamente: cuando sin revelar el nombre se dice algo imprudentemente por lo cual los demás pueden conjeturar de quien se trata y qué hizo.

3. Respondiendo al caso planteado

En el caso arriba planteado: ¿cae la identidad del que agrede al confesor en la confesión bajo sigilo?

Hay que distinguir:

a) Si la confesión fue fingida, en orden a agredir al confesor, no cae bajo sigilo, como se dijo más arriba.

b) Pero si la confesión no fue fingida, entonces obliga bajo sigilo según el parecer de San Alfonso. Éste dice: ‘Tampoco creo que es lícito por lo común el manifestar los pecados cometidos por el Penitente mientras se confiesa, por ejemplo las desvergüenzas que le dice al confesor, y otros semejantes, porque entonces se manifestaría indirectamente o que se le negó la absolución, o que se le dio alguna reconvención fuerte’[2].

En cambio, la identidad de los penitentes (no la del que agrede al confesor) no es cosa que caiga bajo sigilo directamente, a menos que el penitente le hubiese prohibido que lo descubriese, o si hubiese ido secretamente a confesarse[3].

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