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Polish priest charged for confession confidence

A Polish priest is facing criminal charges after he refused to give evidence about a confessional conversation with an alleged murderer.

Prosecutors from the Pope's former Krakow archdiocese have charged Fr Boleslaw Wawak of Jordanow parish with witholding information.

"We have asked the archbishop's office to explain the Canon Law clauses which govern confessional secrecy", said Miroslawa Kalinowska-Zajdak, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in the city.

"We need a clear account of the circumstances in which a priest can claim to be bound by secrecy."

Fr Wawak was summoned after he helped obtain the release of a 55-year-old murder suspect by testifying that the real killer had confessed to him.

Although the priest agreed to disclose the man's identity, a new trial was abandoned for lack of evidence after he refused to act as a prosecution witness, claiming the alleged admission had been made under confessional rules.

Polish Church sources confirmed to the London-based Catholic newspaper The Universe that Cardinal Franciszek Macharski of Krakow had been consulted, but was resisting court pressure to order the priest to give incriminating evidence in the case, which followed the 1999 murder of an elderly villager from Poland's southern Podhale region.

The Universe

Archdiocese of Krakow
Confessional seal under attack in United States (11/3/03)
What's the 'Confessional Seal'? Excerpted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Code of Canon Law (Beliefnet)

22 Jul 2003