Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
ConfessionCatholics, Repentance, and Forgiveness in America$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Patrick W. Carey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190889135

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190889135.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 July 2020

The Confessional Seal

The Confessional Seal

Legal and Apologetic Dimensions of the Sacrament of Penance

(p.31) Chapter 2 The Confessional Seal

Patrick W. Carey

Oxford University Press

The chapter demonstrates how Catholic sacramental confession influenced the American legal system and expanded the notion of religious liberty in the United States. It describes a precedent-setting legal decision in New York City in 1813 on the confessional seal—that is, the priest’s canonical obligation to preserve the secrecy of a penitent’s confession of sins. A New York court in People v. Phillips declared that a priest who had learned of a crime through a penitent’s confession of sins was not obliged to reveal that information in a court trial. That legal decision was periodically cited in subsequent court cases in the United States and laid the grounds for subsequent statutory laws in various states that protected in particular the confessional seal and more generally clerical confidentiality. The legal case also became the occasion for the first major American Catholic apologetical attempt to defend the Catholic understanding of sacramental confession.

Keywords:   People v. Phillips, religious liberty, confessional seal, clerical confidentiality, Catholic apologetics, Anthony Kohlmann, Trent, Protestant reformers, William Sampson, DeWitt Clinton

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .