Confess My Sins to a Priest? Why Can’t I Just Talk to God?

If you’re Catholic, you’ve heard this before, right? Your Protestant friend says, “Why should I confess my sins to a priest?” Chances are he’s going to offer one of two arguments:

  • I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I can talk to God directly.
  • Jesus is the only mediator between God and man.

Giuseppe Crespi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Giuseppe Crespi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Well, that’s easy! Your first counter-argument can be an explanation:  We’re simply doing what Jesus told us to do.

Catholics don’t just confess their sins to a priest. The priest is an “alter-Christus”; that is, he stands in for Christ. When a Catholic confesses his sins in the presence of a priest, it’s Christ he’s talking to through the priest, and Christ who is offering forgiveness.

Why would I believe such a thing?

The Bible tells me so! 

In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus gives the power to forgive sins to Peter and to his successors. “And so I say to you,” says Christ,

“…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Of course, even if Jesus said something only once, we are obligated to believe it. In this case, though, he chose to really emphasize the importance of the teaching. Again in Matthew 18:18, the Savior says:

“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Still not convinced? Read His words in John 20:21-22 with an open mind, and see if you can come up with another explanation. Jesus said:

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

*     *     *     *     *

As he walked along the roads near Jerusalem, teaching the people, Christ forgave sins. But he was leaving: He would soon suffer death on the cross, would rise and would return to heaven at the Ascension. How would his followers know that they were forgiven, when they couldn’t hear those words from Christ in person?

Christ promised to be with his church until the end of time; but he wouldn’t be here on earth physically and visibly. He delegated the power to forgive sins to other men, the Apostles who would lead his church, so that future generations could feel confident that they were forgiven. He gave the power to forgive sins to the Apostles, who in turn passed it along to their successors, the bishops and priests.

So plan this week to take advantage of this sacrament of healing, this great gift which Christ left for you.

If you’re uncertain what to say, how to go to Confession, you’ll appreciate this helpful guide from Busted Halo. Go ahead: Print it out and take it with you.

*     *     *     *     *

MORE ANSWERS TO “WHY DO CATHOLICS DO THAT?”

Why do Catholics bless themselves with holy water?

Why do Catholics pray to the saints?

Why do Catholics stand, sit, kneel? What’s with all the different postures at Mass?

Why won’t the Catholic Church ordain women priests?

Why does the Catholic Church say that you have to go to Mass?

*     *     *     *     *

Seasons of Grace header - new

If you enjoy Seasons of Grace, please subscribe to the Seasons of Grace Daily Digest and “like” the Seasons of Grace page on Facebook so you won’t miss the features and Catholic news each day!

 

Like Patheos Catholic on Facebook!

Patheos Catholic LogoCLICK HERE TO "LIKE" PATHEOS CATHOLIC ON FACEBOOK

  • A. David Beaman

    Anyone who knows church history knows that individual confession was first introduced by Irish monks in the 7th century and not made mandatory by the Church until 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council. So, were all Christians before that time unforgiven? I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church and go to Mass regularly, but I feel certain that if I sincerely confess my sins to God and am truly repentant, God forgives me without any priest being involved.

    • George

      You sound like you have more knowledge of early church history then I do. But what then do you make of John 20:21-22? It does sound to me like Christ intends his disciples to be in the business of forgiving people on his behalf after he is gone. I can’t imagine what else he meant or that he intended for the practice to die out with the first generation of disciples.

      • lorasinger

        John wrote 60-80 years after the fact and was not John the apostle. Internal evidence in the writings establishes that. The anonymous writer was documenting the legends that were going around during his time, the end of a telephone game.

        • Morrie Chamberlain

          Wrong. The historicity of the gospels is easy to prove.

          • lorasinger

            Afraid not. Only that they were written by anonymous authors between 70 AD when Paul brought in the god man belief in Jesus (there are no god men in Judaism) and 110 AD. There is not one supportive writing contemporary to the time of Jesus and there are too many stories in the bible that directly contradict the laws and traditions of the Jews, thereby making them unlikely events. For instance, the Christian Eucharist/communion. Jews are expressly forbidden by God in their Torah to consume blood of any kind. (They keep kosher even to this day) Now, Jesus stated that he didn’t come to change The Law (Torah) and obviously he was a Torah upholding Jew. How likely is it that he would have asked his apostles (also Jews) : John 6:53–56
            – Then Jesus said unto them,Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and
            drink his blood, ye have no life in you”.
            .
            Not too darn likely. Eating the blood of the god is a pagan custom, specifically that of Mithraism, Christianity’s twin. This is one of the many fabrications that Christians believe without ever questioning entirely because they consult ONLY the bible.

          • Morrie Chamberlain

            So you probably are skeptical about whether Tacitus wrote the Annals? Most scholars agree on the following dates of the gospels (Black, David A. (2001). Rethinking the Synoptic Problem. Baker Academic. ISBN 0-8010-2281-9):

            Mark: c. 68–73
            Matthew: c. 70–100
            Luke: c. 80–100
            John: c. 90–100
            If they were forgeries would not authorship had been ascribed to St. Peter, Jesus mother Mary, Phillip, Andrew, etc. rather than second tier disciples like Luke and Mark? Would forgeries include minor details like the young man running off into the night. To accept your hypothesis a whole new genre of literature would have been invented and not seen again until modern times.

            Our knowledge regarding Mithraism is very imperfect . . . mostly ingenious guesswork; of the real inner working of Mithraism and the sense in which it was understood by those who professed it at the advent of Christianity, we know nothing. . . . Some apparent similarities exist; but in a number of details it is quite probable that Mithraism was the borrower from Christianity.

            Yes we drink Jesus blood and eat his body because in the Sacrament of the Eucharist which he established the night before his death he took bread and said “This is my body” and he took the chalice of wine and said “This is my blood”. Yes Jews at the at time thought this was cannibalism but in cannabilism the victim is slowly eaten away but we know that jesus is in heaven in all his glory, body, soul , and divinity.

            Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old testament law and entered into a New Covenant with his people.

          • lorasinger

            No, I’m not skeptical that Tacitus wrote the annals at the beginning of the second century. I am curious however as to why the pages that correspond to the years that covered Jesus alleged ministry are missing from it.
            .
            The idea of a sacrificial man god does not come from Judaism nor did it exist in Jesus time. Paul was the first to introduce it and the gospels follow his writings. They would also be written by Paul’s converts. Paul’s writings were unheard of before 70 AD.
            .
            Mithraism pre-dates Christianity. The early Church Fathers Justin Martyr and Tertullian tried to say that Mithraism copied the Lord’s Supper from Christianity, but they were forced to say that demons had copied it
            since only demons could copy an event in advance of its happening. They could not say that the followers of Mithras had copied it because it was a known fact that
            Mithraism had included the ritual a long time before Christ was born.
            .
            Inscription to Pagan Mithras – “He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made one with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation.”
            .
            Mithraic scholar David Ulansey wrote a book, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, in which he shows that Mithraism originated in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia. Tarsus was Paul’s home town.
            .
            The man, Jesus, as a Jew would never have asked anyone to drink his blood. Jews are forbidden to consume blood in any form by Torah Law and Jesus clearly upheld the Law.
            .
            In fact, the Covenant is eternal and for that reason there can be no “new” covenant.

            .

            Paul created the “new” covenant of the NT and then went on to say ” (Galatians 5:4), “Those of you who try to be put right in God’s view by obeying the Law (Torah – which includes even the ten commandments) have cut yourselves off from Christ. You are outside God’s grace.”

          • CTimeline

            Lora, where did you come to glean such a idiosyncratic understanding of early Christian history?

          • lorasinger

            I wouldn’t call it idiosyncratic, CT. Most of this is easily found if you look at straight history outside of the “politically correct” teachings of the church itself. It comes from the writings of the early church fathers and early Roman historians, Jewish rabbis on current and past traditions, laws and beliefs, archaeological findings, Mithraic and biblical scholars, Ebionite studies, findings from the dead sea scrolls, people like Robert Eisenman, Hyam MacCoby, Bart Ehrman. There are too many to even begin to list.
            .
            I’ve always been interested in finding the actual truth behind the dogma, never being one to accept something just because someone insists it is so. Unfortunately, our church history has been related by those who are preachers who call themselves historians but are not above tweaking the truth for the good of the church.

            .

          • CTimeline

            That’s great. I have an interest and a rather large book collection on the resources you mention, but I still do not recognize the picture you portray of early Christian history (or Mithraism). I wondered, therefore, if there is any historian who argues for the broad narrative you give? I know that Robert Eisenman and Bart Ehrman don’t.

          • lorasinger

            Try Hyam MacCoby’s “The Mythmaker”. For a time he wasn’t in favour for his findings but recently Eisenman and Ehrman say pretty much the same things. There are some Youtube video lectures, particularly one by Bart Ehrman that supports MacCoby.

            David Ulansey wrote” The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries”

            E. Zuesse wrote “Christ’s Ventriloquists”.

            R. Eisenman “The Dead sea scrolls uncovered” and “James, the brother of Jesus”.

            McDonald “Beyond Belief”.

          • lorasinger

            Re: Mark: c. 68–73
            Matthew: c. 70–100
            Luke: c. 80–100
            John: c. 90–100
            If they were forgeries…..
            ..
            I don’t say they are forgeries. Just that the actual authors are unknown. The gospels were named, based on tradition only, when the bible was compiled centuries later.

    • Morrie Chamberlain

      So Jesus gave the apostles the power to loose and retain sins When you confess your sins how do know which sins to retain? It is very easy for humans to fool themselves into thinking they are contrite.

      • Elijah fan

        Morrie,
        But then what of the first 1215 years worth of Catholics? How do you address that? Very strong in first milenium consciousness was maybe the epistle which said, ” Confess your sins to one another ” James 5:16. I imagine groups like the Amish still follow such. I wouldn’t do so on my block where one cold day, three Catholic households wouldn’t jump start my car battery. I certainly am not going to confess my sins to them. I called a gas station but I didn’t confess to them either. The problem inter alia is that people are dropping out of the Church because perhaps they noticed that the sex abuse enormities involved priest power with some abusers telling younger victims that God permitted such actions. I know of no parent that socked a priest in the jaw over this. That tells me we have overdone clergy interpersonal power but the Church has held no synod to analyzse the power relations that made such a fifty year abuse possible.
        And there were no Catholic heroes who stood out as trying to stop it. That is massive clergy slash canon law power on a subliminal level and is that power symbolized by confessional….inter alia. Would we be better saving Christ’s loose retain quote for unusual events like the long ago use of interdict wherein Rome could interdict a region for mass sin…say largely Catholic Honduras right now for having the highest murder rate on earth?

        • Morrie Chamberlain

          The Church has the power to bind and loose given to it by Jesus. “They marveled at how the power to forgive sins was given to MEN”.

          • Elijah fan

            You are avoiding data and problems. I affirm that the apostles and thus Bishops can do so….but they could use it in interdicts….instead of vis a vis individuals. Can they…bishops… delegate it down to priests?…that is not obvious from quotes of Christ…but was added on by theology and edict. Granted that all priests though can do so, is it wise going forward to do so or is it wiser to use interdict of Catholic countries which dim the light of Catholicism to 6/7ths of the world population. Japan may be blocked from taking Catholicism seriously because she notices that where we invaded and converted…is often a mess with 60% of Mexicans ( many Catholics ) offering food and drink to local spirits ( Pew ) and with Brazil having a murder rate 72 times greater than Japan ( UN figures ). Brazil and Mexico are the two largest Catholic countries.
            Catholicism is judged by white converts based on documents. I suspect non whites when educated are rather looking at where we have been for 500 years and are those countries great or dilapidated like northern Latin America. Even Spain and Portugal recently had over 20% unemployment rates. Catholicism must start to assess its last 500 years as to real countries not as to documents it has written.
            Would many take sin more seriously if they pondered Isaiah one which seems to be relating a non mediary confession to God?

            ” [16] Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes: cease to do perversely, [17] Learn to do well: seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow. [18] And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool. [19] If you be willing, and will hearken to me, you shall eat the good things of the land. [20] But if you will not, and will provoke me to wrath: the sword shall devour you because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

          • Morrie Chamberlain

            That is a good question concerning evidence for apostolic succession. We read in Acts 1:15-26 that the first thing Peter does after Jesus ascends into heaven is implement apostolic succession. Matthias is ordained with full apostolic authority as a successor of Judas . The necessity to have apostolic succession in order for the Church to survive was understood by all. read in Col 1:25 that Paul calls his position a divine “office.” An office has successors. It does not terminate at death. Or it’s not an office. See also Heb. 7:23 – an office continues with another successor after the previous office-holder’s death.

          • Elijah fan

            I nowhere question apostolic succession.

          • Anthony Martinez

            In the Hebrew’s verse the writer is referencing the imperfections of the Levitical priesthood as compared to the ‘completeness’ of Jesus’ role of being a perpetual High Priest. The New Covenant did away with the priesthood and their ‘mediator’ position. Since Jesus fulfilled all that the Law and Prophets foreshadowed, the New Covenant brought in the church age and allowed not only complete access to Him, but made all followers a royal priesthood. Protestants have no issue with Confession. It is a biblical mandate that our Lord and the writers of Scripture put forth to cleanse our hearts, repair relationships, and bring us closer to God. Confessing one-to-another is biblical, whether to one you may have offended, a priest/pastor, or a fellow believer. It is a cleansing endeavor and the one hearing the confession can give biblical counsel and affirm our standing in Christ. The divide between Catholic and Protestant theology is over the concept of Penance, when the priest tells the confessor that in order to regain their salvation/justification (in the case of mortal sin) that certain works must be accomplished. This becomes ‘works’ base forgiveness and diminishes what Christ did on Calvary.
            All believers can state with biblical authority that “your sins are forgiven” if one truly repents and puts their faith in Christ. This is the Good News. And, we can state with biblical authority that if they don’t do this, their sins are not forgiven. Yes, the Apostles were a special group of believers who held an office. The qualification was that they had to have been a personal witness to Jesus’ work on earth. That office is no longer in effect but all true followers adhere to the Apostolic Deposit that was given to us.

          • Morrie Chamberlain

            So when a Protestant repents they are doing a work? Strange theology there. Sole scriptural is not biblical. Sole fide is not biblical. Once saved always saved is not biblical. Total depravity is not biblical. 66 book canon is not biblical. Baptism being only a symbol is not biblical. All
            are traditions of men not to be found before 1500 AD.

          • Anthony Martinez

            Confessing is agreeing with God about your sin. It is not a “get out of jail free card”… not needed. Confession is re-establishing your relationship with God because sin is a barrier to that relationship. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin….a True believer feels the distance from God, confesses and realigns themselves with Him. You don’t confess to gain merit points or to “be saved” again. You confess to access the forgiveness God has given you so that you can continue to walk in the Spirit (1John 1:8-10).
            You slipped in a few “Solas” into this discussion but that was not the subject of the thread. We could go back and forth on these for quite a time and I don’t think it would benefit the discussion. Actually, I was trying to shorten the chasm by stating that Confession was necessary even in Protestant circles. “Once Saved Always Saved” is biblical if interpreted correctly and only when a TRUE believer perseveres and does not fall away. Christ assures us of our Salvation. This is what John wrote his Epistle…he told this us as he put the conclusion on his letter (1John 5:13). If you’ve been a Christian long enough, you will hear/see people who have fallen away, no matter what denomination you are in. This even happened to John, and he explains that they were not TRUE believers…didn’t “abide” with them, didn’t ‘remain’ with them. For whatever reason….most likely Gnotic beliefs….they left the community (faith). John says they weren’t true believers (1John 2:19). There are too many verses that confirm Christ keeps those who are Truly His own. But warnings do occur, and we are glad they are there, but if Truly saved, one will persevere and continue to abide. No need to get into the other subjects you mention. I was a practicing Catholic for 35 years and am very familiar with RCC claims and extra-biblical dogmas. I think it best to agree with the essentials of what we agree on, rather than open a jar of disagreement that will not do justice to a debate of substance on a forum such as this. God Bless.

          • Morrie Chamberlain

            Where does it say in the bible that confession is agreeing God on your sin?h Sounds like an extra biblical dogma to me. Also sounds like you approach God as an equal.

            I am reading a book right now “The Apostacy that Wasn’t” by Rod Bennet and states that the emperor Constantine tried to put himself in the middle of a dispute in the Catholic Church by claiming that the dispute was about a small matter. A non essential doctrine he declared. The doctrine in dispute was whether there was a time when Jesus was not. Arianism (or today’s Jehovah’s Witness). That was a big deal and the issue we are debating is a big deal.

            The Catholic Church has taught for 2000 years that a person can lose their sanctifying grace through mortal sin and put their soul in jeopardy. Nowhere did you say that it is absolutely necessary that a Protestant (and by the way you are speaking not for all Protestants since not all Protestants believe as you do) must confess. Just that it is a good idea. For a good relationship with God. But not necessary?

            Paul at the end of his life said that he had run the good fight and was ready for his reward but when he was younger he said that despite having nothing on his conscience he was not thereby acquitted. That God will judge him. Likewise, the Catholic Church teaches that a Catholic can have a moral assurance of his salvation (at the time of his initial justification, during his life, and at death) but not an absolute assurance We are not God.

            The poor Calvinist is always sure that they are a True Believer but always quick to point out that other True Believers may not be so True after all.
            . his

          • Anthony Martinez

            Morrie….I’m not so sure I follow the argument in this post. I agree with God that Jesus is who is says He is. I agree that Jesus came to earth in space-time history to redeem mankind. I agree that God is holy, spoke the worlds into existence, and chose a specific people and lineage to enter the human race. And, I agree with God on sin, and how it separates me from Him. So when truly agree with God, I make it internal….faith is a heart issue….and I became a ‘new’ person. Therefore, I agree with God about what he says in Scripture which includes sin and confession.
            There are things God gives me I could never achieve by myself: The Holy Spirit, Inheritance, Sonship, Forgiveness, Authority, Eternal Life. However, there are things I need to do on my own, and that is to be faithful, obedient, and to mature…to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2Pet 3:18).
            I am not familiar with Bennett’s book but if he is of the
            opinion that the Nicene Council was a necessary Council to avert heresy, then I stand with him. The sad thing is that although this Council made the correct biblical decision, Arianism again crept back into the church and the leadership embraced it for a time. I’m sure it broke heart of Athanasius, but the Scriptural view eventually won out.
            I don’t see the need to go over the views of John Calvin, but in examining Scripture, I think God wants us to have an assurance of Salvation. If we walk with Him we acknowledge His presence in our lives. It is Christ who saves us. Eph 2:8-10.

          • lorasinger

            “After the death of Jesus, Peter, James and John (the brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee) did not claim pre-eminence because Jesus specifically honored them BUT CHOSE JAMES THE JUST AS BISHOP OF JERUSALEM.”
            Peter remained a practicing Jew, by his own word, a follower of James, not Paul.

          • Morrie Chamberlain

            There is ample evidence in the New Testament that Peter was first in authority among the apostles. Whenever they were named, Peter headed the list (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13); sometimes the apostles were referred to as “Peter and those who were with him” (Luke 9:32). Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28). On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7). It is Peter’s faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and Peter is given Christ’s flock to shepherd (John 21:17). An angel was sent to announce the resurrection to Peter (Mark 16:7), and the risen Christ first appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34). He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and he received the first converts (Acts 2:41). He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11). It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48).

          • lorasinger

            Not if you go outside the bible and search historical writings.

          • lorasinger

            .
            This is the full article from historical researchers based on writings of the early church fathers and other historians”
            .
            Quote: “The idea that St Peter had been the first Bishop of Rome seems to have been invented around AD 220. Tentative efforts were being made by bishops of Rome to establish themselves as special. In the middle of the same century Pope Stephen I developed an ingenious argument to support his claim to pre-eminence. His argument was later developed by other popes, and is now enshrined in canon law.219 It may be summarized as follows: The apostle Peter had enjoyed pre-eminence among the apostles. Peter had been Bishop of Rome. Subsequent
            bishops of Rome were successors to Peter and so enjoyed the same pre-eminence that he had.
            .
            The Peter of the Clementines is, in speech and mode of living, a Jew. ). He lays all possible stress upon the Law, while the Prophets are secondary. On the other hand,
            he calls Paul “an enemy” of the Church, who acted in the interests of the high priest while pursuing the faithful.

            “After the death of Jesus, Peter, James and John (the brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee) did not claim pre-eminence because Jesus specifically honored them BUT CHOSE JAMES THE JUST AS BISHOP OF JERUSALEM.” Peter remained a practicing Jew, by his own word, a follower of James, not Paul.
            .
            Quote: “Some have attempted, while I am still alive to distort my word by interpretation of many sorts, as if I taught the dissolution of the Law … But that may God forbid! For to do such a thing means to act contrary to the Law of God which was made to Moses and was confirmed by our Lord in its everlasting continuance. For He said: `For heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot
            or tittle shall pass away from the Law.'” Letter of Peter to James, 2.3-5 (presumed 92 A.D.)
            .
            That means that he didn’t follow Paul and his converts who became the later RCC, nor was he the first pope. Again this is church tradition only and it’s quite nicely explained in the greater scheme of things, that being that the importance of James was hidden by the church (to preserve belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity) and Peter was elevated in order to squelch the actual Jewishness of the James group and that of Jesus. The James group, the actual followers of Jesus, meanwhile became known as Ebionites and were declared heretics while Paul’s pagan based religion went on to become Christianity.”
            .
            These are based on the findings of both Butz and Eisenman from information based on the Dead Sea Scrollsl.

          • Mara319

            “thus Bishops can do so….but they could use it in interdicts….instead of vis a vis individuals.”

            Yes, Bishops can use interdicts within their own dioceses.

            “Can they…bishops… delegate it down to priests?…that is not obvious from quotes of Christ…but was added on by theology and edict.”

            I do not know the answer to this. All I know is that a bishop is a successor to the apostles, that he is the shepherd of the flock and priests are his extension, so to speak.

            I know that some bishops delegate the administering of the sacrament of Confirmation to some of his priests, but I don’t know if such delegations are done as regards interdicts and censures.

            I can not answer the rest of your questions because they all seem conditional to your words:
            “Granted that all priests though can do so, is it wise going forward to do so …”

            God bless you.

        • Mara319

          ” Confess your sins to one another ” James 5:16. could mean an apology [done either publicly or privately to the offended individuals] or, in the case of grave sins, sacramental confession where a Catholic goes to a priest to be absolved of his sin.

          A priest may have the power to forgive other people’s sins, but not his own sins. Priests, too, have to go to confession to other priests. Including the Pope.

      • Mara319

        As I understand it, unrepentant sins are not given absolution unless they are repented. The penitent will have to say he’s sorry and ask forgiveness for his sin.

        I suppose some people sometimes boast or justify their sins to the priest instead of being sorry for them and those cases are not forgiven.

        Also, if you murdered someone and went to confession, your sin would be forgiven only if you are truly sorry. The priest will tell you to go surrender yourself to the police. Murder is both a crime and a sin.

        Or when you stole something, you should give it back to whomever you stole from [secretly or otherwise] and if that’s no longer possible, you should give alms to the poor to make up for what you’ve stolen.

        All I’m saying are suppositions because there’s a “seal of the confessional” and all that goes on in confession is between the priest and the penitent. Under no circumstances should a confessor priest break the seal, or he himself will be punished severely by the Church.

    • Mara319

      The Irish monks introduced the concept of private confessions, i.e. the use of the confessional box. Before that, confession of sins, contrition and penance were done publicly.

  • JeffS

    The convo always turns to, “well, can you PROVE that Peter passed on his powers in the way so many Catholics think he did?”. In all I’ve researched, the answer is really, “no”. What we know of the Peter –> Linus transition (and the other subsequent early transitions) is just not at all rigorous by modern historical documentation standards. I myself am Roman Catholic, but it is admittedly difficult to convey to others that the Truth of the Church is more than just this piece of the conversation.

    • lorasinger

      What powers? After Jesus died, his brother James took over – not Peter, and Peter himself writes: “Quote: “Some have attempted, while I am still alive to distort my word by interpretation of many sorts, as if I taught the dissolution of the Law … But that may God forbid! For to do such a thing means to act contrary to the Law of God which was made to Moses and was confirmed by our Lord in its everlasting continuance. For He said: `For heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle shall pass away from the Law.'” Letter of Peter to James, 2.3-5 (presumed 92
      A.D.)
      .
      Peter remained a Jew, an apostle to the “circumcised”.

  • Pikematrick

    The Sacrament of Penance has indeed developed over the history of the church but at every point along the way a priest or bishop had to give absolution. We certainly must and the church requires us to ask God for forgiveness before we present ourselves to the priest. Remember after the lepers were healed Jesus told them to present themselves to the priest as a final act of the healing process. Furthermore, the action of the Holy Spirit leading us to greater understanding of what Jesus wanted for His Catholic Church can not be over emphasized, His Guidance is the source of why we have auricular confession.

    By the way Kathy, the great teacher and Servant of God. Fr John A Hardon SJ would take exception with your statement:” Christ promised to be with his church until the end of time; but he wouldn’t be here on earth physically and visibly.” Fr Hardon teaches us that Christ never left us…that He is still here…still physically here in the Eucharist! He is not visibly here but he is on Earth physically present in the Eucharist! His body blood soul and divinity are all he has and therefore he is here just like you are. The same Jesus who walked with human feet and ate human food is glorified and present physically in the Eucharist. Andalso talk about the highest form of humility to take the form of bread so that we could receive him in a way that even our most beloved family members can’t come close. I can hug my little girl but we will never become one like Christ arranged through the Eucharist.

    • Snooterpoot

      Why is the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible correct and everyone else’s wrong?

      That’s really all this is about.

  • lorasinger

    Jesus taught: ” when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your
    Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
    .
    Where is a “stand in required”?

    • George

      You’re right there’s no mention of a stand in. There’s also no mention of sin or confession either. John 20:21-22 speaks much more directly on the subject.

      • lorasinger

        Consider that the man Jesus (before Paul invented the man god) was a Jew and as such would have followed the directions of Torah and this is completely within those teachings. With the advent of Paul – 30 years or so after Jesus death, and the reinvention of Jesus as a god, anything is possible. It was Paul’s dogma that went on to become the RCC. The followers of the apostles were the Ebionites/Nazarenes and they disappeared after about 70 AD with the fall of the temple. The Catholic church declared them to be heretics and destroyed all their writings. What we know about them comes from the criticisms of the early church fathers and now the dead sea scrolls.

  • Jed

    Jesus was telling His disciples that…not some pagan based religious organizations and it’s “priests”….Jesus/God are the only one who can forgive sins…some mortal “stand in” cannot do that…

  • http://jesuskoinonia.com Bill Bremer

    Knowing that the blood of Jesus has cleansed us is vital to spiritual relationship with God and one another (Heb 10:19, 1 Pe 1:2, 2 Jn 1:7). A priest or another christian can assure us of that absolution (Jas 5:16, 1 Jn 1:9),