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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. What is the Catholic Church teaching on keeping a secret?

A. 1. There are two types of secrets. The first is the secret of the Sacrament of Confession. On that subject, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

# 2490 "The secret of the sacrament of reconciliation is sacred, and cannot be violated under any pretext. "The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason."

The other type of secrets are the professional ones. On this matter the Catechism states:

# 2491 "Professional secrets - for example, those of political office holders, soldiers, physicians, and lawyers - or confidential information given under the seal of secrecy must be kept, save in exceptional cases where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth. Even if not confided under the seal of secrecy, private information prejudicial to another is not to be divulged without a grave and proportionate reason."

Certain information such as the sexual abuse of minors that is disclosed in secret to professionals (doctors, teachers, coaches, non-Catholic ministers, etc...) must be reported to the police without any delay because such abuse places the psychological well-being of the child at risk.

On the subject of secrets, the Holy Bible states, "Whoever betrays secrets destroys confidence, and will never find a congenial friend." [Sir. 27:16] A "congenial friend" is defined as a "best friend" that can be trusted.

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