Chapter 16, “The Communicants: Private Absolution” (pp. 120-121)
Private confession and absolution are not commanded in Scripture but have a long and profitable history. The confession gives the penitent sinner opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness in a personal and authoritative way (p. 120). While it is not necessary for a Lutheran congregation to have private absolution it is a good practice. Walther affirms that the pastor may and should ask the one confessing about accusations which have been made, but cannot convict of those. It is a confession, not an inquisition (p. 123). The entire experience is about penitents receiving forgiveness.
In cases of known sin and impenitence the preacher may suspend communion, though he is not able to excommunicate. This is a very serious move and must be done carefully. It is also important that when the pastor proclaims absolution he should do it freely and categorically.
The seal of the confession is absolute (p. 126). The one who hears a confession may never be forced to reveal the sin which God has forgiven.