Friday August 14th 2020

Why Do Catholics Confess Their Sins to a Priest?

Why Do Catholics Practice Confession of Sins to a Priest?

Jesus said, “The Son of Man has the Authority to forgive sins on Earth” (Mark 2:10).  But, Jesus, upon his death and resurrection, passed on his authority to forgive sins to the Apostles.

Jesus appeared to his disciples, breathed the Holy Spirit upon them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23).  This moment, when Jesus breathed on his apostles, began both the institution of the priesthood and the sacrament of confession.  Christ gave his first priests, the Apostles, the authority to forgive and retain sins.  It was his intention that all sin be forgiven though the Church by a confession of sins to the priests.  The apostles passed on this authority to the Bishops and Priests.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this; “In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church…. ‘I will give you the Keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ ‘Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry.” (CCC 1444,1461)

Now that we know that this is how Jesus intended confession, there are still questions as to why Jesus did this?  Why not make a private confession during prayer?  Why confess to another human?

Always keep in mind; it is necessary to repent before God for your sins.  And the sacrament of reconciliation, Catholics are primarily repenting to God and seeking to reconcile with God.  But there are some very specific reasons why, Jesus intended confession to happen through a priest.  First, as Christ well knew, confession of sins to a priest, who re-present Jesus Christ on earth, requires a lot of humility, trust in God and the Church, and contrition of heart.  The humility to sit in front of priest, the representative of Christ, and confess outwardly all the wrong things you have done is sometimes very difficult but yet very powerful.    And thus, when the forgiveness is granted by the priest, the confessor experiences the mercy of Jesus himself through the priest.  Second, by confessing to a priest, it reminds a person that the sin not only affects the individual but also others.  The priest, not only represents Jesus, but also the entire Catholic community.  God’s forgiveness, granted by the priest, reconciles the confessor to the entire Catholic Church.  Lastly, by confessing to a priest, the confessor has someone to counsel and encourage the confessor, so that the sin does not happen again.

There is no other feeling in the world compared to the joy and peace in your soul after a good confession.  God’s forgiveness through reconciliation is one of the many precious gifts given to us by Jesus.  If you haven’t been to Confession in some time, the priest will understand, and help you through the process.  No priest will ever condemn a penitent man.  Do not let your pride stand in your way from receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As a rule of thumb, Catholics should go to Confession monthly and should never receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin.  Frequent participation in the Sacrament of Confession is a great way to weed out the destructive habits that result in mortal sin and will bring you closer to God.

Reader Feedback

23 Responses to “Why Do Catholics Confess Their Sins to a Priest?”

  1. [...] Originally Posted by Godobeyer thanks i have this question why the confenssion is only at the priest , why not the nun ? I found a link to a website that may be better able to answer your questions better than I can. (I am not familiar with this site, but the answer to your question on it seemed accurate to me.) Hope this helps. Why Do Catholics Confess Their Sins to a Priest? [...]

  2. Nik says:

    Catholics confess their sins to a priest because a priest is the only one who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. A nun is a religious, not a priest. A priest has power given from Jesus Christ to his Apostles, and passed down by the Apostles to Bishops, who give that power in turn to priests. This is why a priest, and only a priest who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, may celebrate the Sacraments, including the Sacrament of Confession.

  3. Roger says:

    I posted a question about this in another post. My question still is why would I confess my sins to a man that is a sinner himself. He has been given the authority to hear my confession and forgive. What about what is says in Hebrews 4:16, So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

    Found this and this makes sense.
    :Again, the concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture. We are to confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9). As New Covenant believers, we do not need mediators between us and God. We can go to God directly because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. First Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

    Again I mean no disrespect but it just seems to me that the Catholic religion interprets the Bible in ways to justify the man made laws by the Catholic religion. Im not Catholic, I don’t follow the laws of this religion, does this mean I am not going to Heaven? No it doesn’t, I’m have been reborn through Jesus Christ. I will go to Heaven and I will do my best to live my life as Jesus would but I know that this is something that cannot be done because I am not Jesus, I am not perfect, I believe God sent his only Son Jesus to die for my sins. So I can be saved. For that I am unworthy but so Blessed and grateful that my God is a merciful God. My relationship with my Father God is what matters. Between only me and Him.

  4. Jim says:

    Amen Roger and there is way more then pieces of scripture
    Then the 4 they read over and over and over again!
    And why do cathilocs still have Christ on the cross?
    It was not complete till he rose from the dead!!!!!

  5. Marie says:

    Sorry to say but the scriptural references are not supportive of the reason given for confession to a Priest. There are way more Bible texts which instructs us to go directly to God with our problems. We are instructed to go boldly to HIS throne where we will find mercy and grace. Any blatantly honest Catholic believer will say truthfully that tradition stands above the Bible. No need to rationalize this thing and be scrambling all over the place to find a few scripture texts to support this practice. And there are many more teachings and practices that have no basis in Christianity. Nevertheless, to each his own. God will set His own house in order at the appointed time. Bless HIS holy name. Amen.

  6. sam romo says:

    Please – those non-catholics who do not agree with Catholic teaching , please keep it to youself . If you are OK with what you believe and comfortable with it – Fine !! continue professing your faith !! But , DO NOT be questioning if you are doing it to try to tell US that we are wrong !!! Pease of Jesus and Mary be with you !!! AMEN

  7. retard says:

    you guys are retarded. lol

  8. Lori Barta says:

    Catholics have this misconstured, JESUS is the only one to forgive sin, notman not a priest not a nun. This passage you state is wrong,as are others.,when someone does a wrong agasinst us, we should forgive them, but,we cannot forgive their sins, they must ask Jesus..no priest.telling you to say so many hail Mary’s etc, is not going to forgive you of your sin.,The bible says Jesus us our high priest, our mediator between God and man.,no where in the bible does it says, anything about doing hail Mary’s,on a crucifixc, another erroneous concept.Jesus died and rose again and stands in victory over sin and death.,wearing a crucifix or praying to one is blasphemy, Christ isn’t on the cross,He isd in our hearts if you have accepted him as your Saviour. Another concept the Catholics don’t get. You don’t go to confession, and do a ritual, then go back out into the world and live like the devil. True Christianity is a daily commune with Christ,,praying,reading His word, and doing what He asks, giving us the power to do that through the Holy Spirit.

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