Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Private response on article 3 §1 of Vos estis lux mundi, 3 September 2019, Prot. N 16689/2019.
Pontificium Consilium de Legum Textibus
Vatican City, 3 September 2019
Prot. N. 16689/2019
I acknowledge your letter in which you request this Pontifical Council to evaluate the possibility of an intervention to clarify a difficulty in interpreting the recent m.p. Vos estis lux mundi.
In your opinion, the difficulty would arise from the combination of what is stated in art. 3 §1 of the quoted text: “Except as provided for by canons 1548 §2 CIC and 1229 §2 CCEO … a cleric or a member of an Institute of Consecrated Life or of a Society of Apostolic Life is obliged to report …” and that which is stated later in art 4 §1: “Making a report pursuant to article 3 shall not constitute a violation of office confidentiality.”
In effect, as you yourself have observed, there is a difference between a secret to which clerics are bound concerning what has been revealed to them by virtue of the sacred ministry, and the secret of office which binds public magistrates, physicians, midwives, lawyers, notaries. The motivations are of a theological and juridical character.
And this difference is clearly affirmed by the Legislator in the aforementioned canon 1548, §2, 1°, not only in the formulation of the text but also in the editorial form which distinguishes the two cases by a semicolon.
The canon neither gave nor gives rise to interpretative doubts, and the motu proprio does not make a change nor does it establish an authentic interpretation of the code text. Therefore, the provisions of Vos estis lux mundi must be interpreted and applied according to the Code.
The foregoing is authoritatively confirmed in the recent Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary “On the importance of the internal forum and the inviolability of the sacramental seal” of 29 June 2019.
Hoping to have provided useful comments on the question you posed, I take this opportunity to confirm myself, in the Lord
+Filippo Cannone, O.C.
Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Private response on article 3 §1 of Vos estis lux mundi, 3 September 2019, Prot. N. 16689/2019. English translation by Msgr. John A. Renken. Accessed 22 December 2019 at: http://www.delegumtextibus.va/content/dam/testilegislativi/risposte-particolari/Questionivariedidiritto/Questioni%20Circa%20l%27arti.%203%20%C2%A71%20del%20mp.%20Vos%20estis%20lux%20mundi.pdf