A US National Security Agency (NSA) official has reportedly denied an allegation that the agency had spied on the Vatican, now Pope Francis and cardinals, but it has not allayed worries among certain Catholics about the use of cellphones for eavesdropping in confessions.
Audio Sancto, a website created and maintained by Catholic laypersons who record and publish sermons by Catholic priests, with permission of the priests who preach them, has broadcast a sermon addressing concerns about the use of cellphones for spying.
On Oct. 30, The Telegraph reported the NSA American spy agency had monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.
The British news service cited claims made by Panorama, an Italian-language weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.
Rorate Caeli (@RorateCaeli) on Nov. 1 tweeted:
Rorate Caeli @RorateCaeli
NSA spying on @Pontifex? @SenRandPaul says maybe. Either way, Catholics should not take phones into confessional!
Servus Immaculatae @servusimaculata replied:
Servus Immaculatae @servusimaculata
Indeed. No phones in the confessional as was preached from the pulpit here:
(It listed the link to the Audio Sancto sermon)
In the Audio Sancto sermon, the preacher stresses the priest’s absolute duty not to disclose anything revealed by the penitent in the Sacrament of Confession. In this age of technological advancement, then, he maintains that banning cellphones from the confessional is needed to protect the Seal of Confession.
The website says recorded preachers are “Catholic priests, in good standing with their local ordinaries and Rome, incardinated with normal faculties and jurisdiction, and serving in North America.”
They are unidentified so that “their attention for their flock won’t be divided by folks outside of their parish who might seek them out for questions rather than going to their local priests.,” the site explains. “The message they happen to be preaching – the Catholic Faith – is what is important, not the human beings preaching it,” the backgrounder page adds.
Click here to listen to information gathered by the preacher on how cellphones are used for spying and reasons why he prohibits bringing a cellphone into a confessional. It is the first part of the sermon, before the priest goes into talking about healing a person from a troubled family.
What are your thoughts and feelings about this sermon on safeguarding secrecy in the confessional, and how it affects the activities of the Church in your end of the world?