There isn't a person alive who has not wished the conversation had ended before too much information had been divulged about things embarrassing, foolish, or just plain vulgar. In fact, half the time I feel that way about commercials on TV. Why it would seem to anyone unfamiliar with Americans that according to commercials on the tube, all our women require help for dealing with a problem of not being able to stop their urine and all our men require help for getting it going. Among other things. We have a habit of talking about things that do not need conversation and having no conversation about things that should be discussed.
There is one place where everything ought to be aired -- the confessional. When penitent comes to confession, there should not be limits about what can or cannot be said. At least you would think so. But though many, if not most, confessions are about matters like sexual temptation, masturbation, anger, telling lies, dishonesty, cheating, and stealing, there are times when matters are so grave that both find it hard to find words. These do not only affect the person’s conscience and their state before the Lord, with which every pastor should be competent, but matters of legality in which some would deny the privacy and seal of the confession and insist that the matter be reported to the appropriate agency, with or without the permission of the one confessing.
Now it seems that some in The Church of England have decided to put up rules on such things, indeed, requiring the priest to warn the one making confession that these things can be used against them in a court of law. Such a Miranda warning is suggested because some sins are egregious crimes and the danger to some is greater than the harm to the one confessing. So when such a priest is hears a confession, he is to warn the penitent:
If you touch on any matter in your confession that raises a concern about the wellbeing or safeguarding of another person or yourself, I am duty bound to pass that information on to the relevant agencies, which means that I am unable to keep such information confidential.I cannot imagine that any priest or pastor hearing confession would let such a matter stand without some words to the penitent. If for nothing other than ascertaining the genuineness of their confession, I would imagine that such a topic would invite more than a few words of conversation and direction. Furthermore, I would suggest that this is exactly the benefit of private confession. Though it is not counseling, that does not mean that there is not pointed conversation going on when such thoughts, words, or deeds come up. Yet I can only imagine that by warning the penitent in this way, the warning itself would both end the confession and stifle exactly the conversation which should and probably would have been had without such a warning. In fact, it sounds less like a warning than advice to shut up and keep quiet before you say anything which might incriminate yourself. While this is surely not what the authors of this warning might want, it is an even greater impediment to the strong, loving, and wise pastoral care that private confession provides.
In fact, it reminds me of a movie, probably considered quaint now, in which what was confessed came back to haunt a priest and cause him to be blamed for the sins of the penitent.