Excommunication for the direct or, mind you, indirect breaking of the seal of confession on the part of the confessor, only refers to ecclesiastical jurisprudence having effects in this world, where it is possible still for the confessor to seek absolution for his sin and a removal of ecclesiastical penalties, however many “riders” there may prudentially be placed on the priest’s readmittance to public ministry in the Holy Catholic Church.
There are other this worldly penalties which may be inflicted by the Church, not excluding burning at the stake. That burning at the stake is an available penalty in the up-to-the-minute revised 1983 Code of Canon Law, is seen in that canon which permits the infliction of a just penalty. There are no restrictions on what is considered just, outside of what is best for all souls involved, leaving the application to the prudence of the bishop.
Whatever about this worldly penalties, there are much, much worse penalties in the next life if the guilt for these crimes is not removed in this world. I think I’ve said this before, but it seems to me that any priest who reveals confessional matter takes upon himself the guilt of the sins confessed by the penitent. The penitent goes away forgiven, while the priest risks going to a hell where he suffers both for his own sins and the sins of any penitents whose sins he has revealed.
Why is this so? Because God will not be mocked. The Lord hung upon the cross to have the right in justice to forgive those sins, He remaining innocent but taking on the penalty which we deserve for our sins, from original sin onward. Are such confessed sins to be treated as fodder for entertainment or mockery?
I recommend both to lay penitents and to priest penitents to seek out a priest who knows why he is a priest. You’ll know that if a priest talks about how wonderful a sacrament confession is.
“God the Father of Mercies has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins…”
Sent for the forginess of sins. And the priest? He is also sent for the forgiveness of sins. If the priest speaks highly of confession, and provides opportunity for going to confession, then he knows why he is a priest.
Our blessed Mother, who never needed to go to confession, knows for that reason more than anyone why Jesus was a Priest. Ask her to beseech our Lord to enlighten especially those priests who are unaware of this their mission to forgive sins. Such prayers are powerful before God.
Save the confessor, save the world.