I recently spoke to one of my (catholic) highschool teachers who was then not a priest but is now a priest.
We were talking, and he mentioned he knew one of my professors during my graduate studies.
I asked him how he knew my professor, and he told me 'confession'.
Q1. Is that allowed? Well obviously the contents of the confessions are confidential, but is the fact that this person goes to confession with a certain priest not held in confidence?
I asked him if it was allowed, and he said yes. (but well of course 'it' includes certain assumptions like telling that someone has gone to confession assuming this or that. obviously the church is not in the habit of posting online the list of everyone who has gone to confession.)
Q2. Follow-up question:
What's the difference between talking to priests and talking to, say, psychiatrists?
- (I choose for this example, psychiatrists or psychologists, in re the stigma of mental health. I choose psychiatrists specifically, since, because psychiatrists are necessarily medical doctors, I can say 'patient' as in 'doctor-patient privilege' as analogous to 'penitent' as in 'Priest–penitent privilege'.)
Afaik, psychiatrists don't even disclose that a certain patient consults with them.
On the one hand, seeing psychiatrists isn't as common among humans as confession is among Catholics, and there isn't quite a stigma in a Catholic seeing or having seen a priest or a particular priest since well we're all sinners but don't necessarily have medical mental health problems.
On the other hand, priests seem to have stricter confidentiality laws than psychiatrists: They can't disclose death threats if it would break confidentiality.
It seems weird to me that death threats cannot be disclosed if it would break confidentiality but that someone goes to a certain priest for confession is not confidential.
Edit: Btw, I recently thought of the possibility that he could've said something like 'religious consultation (but not necessarily specifically confession)', in that Catholics could seek spiritual advice from priests without confessing anything.