William Hogan on the power of the confessional:
I must be permitted here to remind Americans, that all Roman Catholics are taught to believe, and distinctly to understand, that whatever they confess to their priests, is not to be revealed; nor is the individual, who confesses, permitted to reveal whatever the priest says or does to him or her, except to another priest. For instance, should a priest insult or attempt to seduce a woman, and succeed in doing so, she dare not reveal it under pain of damnation, except to another priest in confession, who is bound also to secrecy; and thus, priests, bishops, popes, and all females of that denomination, may be guilty of licentiousness,—the bare mention of which would pollute the pages of this or any other work,—with impunity. The priests can first pardon the woman, and then themselves, according to the doctrines of the infallible church of Rome. This is not all. It is not enough that the sanction of the church should be given to these enormities; but priests also claim the right of concealing, from the civil authorities, any knowledge which they may have of crimes against the state as well as the power of forgiving them. The following is the language of the church upon that subject. Attend to it, fellow citizens, and tremble at the dangers that threaten the destruction of your republic, from the introduction of Popery among you.
“Although the life or salvation of a man, or the ruin of the state, should depend upon it, what is discovered in confession cannot be revealed. The secret of the seal—confession—is more binding than the obligation of an oath.” If a confessor is asked, what he knows of a fact communicated to him, he must answer that he does not know it; and, if necessary, confirm it by an oath; and “this is no perjury,” says the Popish church, “because he knows it not as man, but as GOD.” There is Popery for you, in its naked beauty! If a man wishes to murder, or to rob you, he may go to his priest, apprize him of his intention, confess to him that he will assuredly murder and rob you, or that he has done so already, and yet this priest may be your next door neighbor, and he will not make it known; and why, reader? Because he knows it as God, and as God he tells the murderer to come to him and he will forgive him.
~William Hogan, Popery! As it Was and as it Is, Popish Bishops and Priests Absolve Allegiance to Protestant Governments