Skip to comments.Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest?
Posted on 03/27/2009 1:53:10 PM PDT by NYer
Of all the objections to the sacrament of reconciliation, the one most often voiced, particularly by Protestants, and sometimes by Catholics is: “I don’t need to go to confession to a priest! The priest is just another human being! All that I need to do is to confess my sins directly to God, and that is enough!”
This objection is flawed on a number of counts:
• Jesus commissioned forgiveness through his apostles. Jesus asked believers to approach God for forgiveness through the apostles who were commissioned to act as his agents.
Jesus told Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
After the resurrection, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:22-23). Priests alone carry out this apostolic role (Canon 965; CCC 1461 and 1462).
This is consistent with our Jewish heritage. When it came to atonement for sins in the Jewish tradition, God instructed Moses to have the people bring a holocaust to the temple, usually an unblemished bullock or lamb.
The sinner was to lay his hands on the head of the animal, symbolically transferring his sins to the animal, and then to slaughter it, to have the animal die in place of the sinner.
The sinner then handed the animal to the priest who offered it on the altar (Leviticus 1:1-5). The priest served as a go-between for the sinner to mediate God’s pardon and peace.
• Catholic sacraments are mediated. The sacraments celebrate the most profound moments of our lives: birth (baptism), the transition to adulthood (confirmation), lifetime commitment (marriage and holy orders), and the end of life (anointing).
Two other sacraments strengthen us for the journey through life: Eucharist, our spiritual sustenance; and penance, the forgiveness of sins.
We need to be fed at least weekly, and because we sin so often, we need to be forgiven regularly. The sacraments are not self-administered. Rather, the priest is the mediator, the linkage or conduit between God and the people, a rich channel of God’s grace.
• A personal encounter with Christ. The priest is not just “another human being,” but one who acts in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. With faith, we believe that when the penitent speaks to the priest, the penitent speaks to Christ, and when the priest speaks, the priest speaks on behalf of Christ. When the priest says, “I absolve you,” it is Christ who absolves (Mark 2:10).
• A community representative. Our sins offend not only God, but the community as well. It is not only impractical to admit our sins to others, but often also ill-advised, because of scandal or grave consequences. When we admit our sins to a priest, we reconcile with the community, and the priest, on behalf of those we have offended, says, “You are forgiven.”
• The personal touch. When we confess our sins to a priest, we are able to receive individualized counsel — advice that fits our unique circumstances — and we can be given a penance that is “medicinal,” specifically tailored to help us in the spiritual healing process (Canon 981).
This article is the 3rd in a 10 part series from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. You may want to bookmark the link to follow the progress of the series.
“All that I need to do is to confess my sins directly to God, and that is enough!”
Actually the Bible says “to one another”
Of course, that is why it is always followed by “in the name of Christ,” right?
How about when he does something naughty?
Actually, the words are, "I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. + Go in peace."
Actually, it says ‘confessing our faults one to another’.
No man has the power to absolve, forgive or in any manner mediate between god and man. No yogis, priests, popes, witch doctors, channelers...nobody!
Fortunately, we have the first amendment or we would be right back under the control of arminian sacerdotalists.
Only Christ has the authority to forgive sins.
"Because you gotta; now sit down and shut up!"
At least that's how Sister Angela explained it to me. It was a tough Detroit neighborhood where there wasn't time to discuss the nuances of Catholic dogma.
I always took the ‘confess to one another’ as more of a therapeutic instrument, especially, as you pointed out, it is not stated as for absolution, nor is it man’s place to absolve. IE, don’t keep your guilt bottled up, let it go...
Until this statement, I was going to let this thread go, but this statement flies in the face of James 5:16 "Be confessing to one another the trespasses, and be praying for one another, that you may be healed;"
Note that James actually calls for confession TO ONE ANOTHER. The rest of the passages cited by this author do not make direct statements about confession.
Strong’s Number: 3900
a sin, misdeed
I like the Protestant version better.
I guess we’ll all find out later.
Jam 5:16 Confess [your] faults ((hamartanō) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Same Greek word
So I guess the priest gets to confess his sins to the layman then, right?
... including the authority to delegate it (John 20:22-23).
(yes, I keep it close along with my Douay-Rheims)
Matt 9:1-8 1 And entering into a boat, he passed over the water and came into his own city. 2 And behold they brought to him one sick of the palsy lying in a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy sins are forgiven thee. 3 And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. 7 And he arose, and went into his house. 8 And the multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to men.
Mark 2:5-12 5 And when Jesus had seen their faith, he saith to the sick of the palsy: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.
6 And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: 7 Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins, but God only? 8 Which Jesus presently knowing in his spirit, that they so thought within themselves, saith to them: Why think you these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house. 12 And immediately he arose; and taking up his bed, went his way in the sight of all; so that all wondered and glorified God, saying: We never saw the like.
Priests are to absolve sins in His name:
Matt 18:18-19 18 Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.
John 20:20-23 with commentary in the Douay-Rheims bible20 And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.
19 "The doors were shut"... The same power which could bring Christ's whole body, entire in all its dimensions, through the doors, can without the least question make the same body really present in the sacrament; though both the one and the other be above our comprehension.
21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
23 "Whose sins"... See here the commission, stamped by the broad seal of heaven, by virtue of which the pastors of Christ's church absolve repenting sinners upon their confession.