Connect with us

The Catholic Doctrine

EXPLAINED: Why Catholics Confess to a Priest

Morgan Jeoc



There are many contemporary cases among the Christian faith, which though may be regarded as contempt but kept revolving as some practiced based on tradition and doctrines of the church. The belief that the bible is not the author of confusion gave rise to some questions Christians do ask.

Why do Catholics confess their sins to the reverend father instead of God directly? Does it mean that God cannot hear our confession and forgive us when we pray directly to him?

First John 1:8-9
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness“. Therefore it is possible to confess to the Lord and receive the grace of forgiveness.

To make the answer more concise, it will be proper to note human psychology, in the structure of the catholic doctrine. Do you think God didn’t see you when you were sinning? So what difference does it make confessing to him? An individual can commit the same sin timelessly and pray to God for forgiveness but such an individual may not be able to face the priest who is in human form to confess the same sin repeatedly. Most confessions go with penance which purifies an individual or serves as the atonement for the sin committed.

From the old testament, God gave his priests the mandate or roles to play in the forgiveness of sins.

Leviticus 19:20 – 22
If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the Lord. With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the Lord for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven“.

A priest being used as God’s instrument of forgiveness did not somehow take away from the fact that it was God who did the forgiving. God was the first cause of the forgiveness; the priest was the secondary, or instrumental cause. Thus, God being the forgiver of sins in Isaiah 43:25 and Psalm 103:3 in no way eliminates the possibility of there being a ministerial priesthood established by God to communicate his forgiveness.

Just as God empowered his priests to be instruments of forgiveness in the Old Testament, the God/man Jesus Christ delegated authority to his New Testament ministers to act as mediators of reconciliation as well. Jesus made this remarkably clear in John 20:21-23;
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The priest is the instrument of mediation through which God can communicate to us. However, The only way the apostles could either forgive or retain sins is by first hearing those sins confessed, and then making a judgment on whether or not the sins will be forgiven.

Is there any sin that God cannot forgive?
When you confess your sins from the dept of your heart and are sincerely sorry for them, the priest in the Catholic faith gives you a penance. When you pray and carry out your penance as instructed by the priest, your sins may be forgiven.