Confessing to a sinning priest


Someone I know doesn’t want to go to confession, because of the church sex scandals. They feel that they don’t want to have to come clean in front of a priest, who may very well be a greater sinner. What is the best argument against this approach? I don’t agree with it, but want to be able to convince the person that confession is needed regardless of the sins of the priest.



We are all sinners, including priests, which is why they go to confession regularly as well. In the Sacrament of confession, the priest is acting as the person of Christ, so it is really Jesus Who is hearing our confession and absolving us of our sins.


Excuses, excuses. :rolleyes:

Priests confess their sins to one another too–even the Pope has to confess his sins. Everybody’s got to do it :slight_smile:


I agree. I think they feel that since the priests of the scandal seem to act secretively, and cover-up things, that they can’t expect the average laity to come to them to confess sins. It is an unfair position to blame all priests for the sins of the few, but that perception remains. The scandal has caused untold damage to the church.:frowning:


I actually heard that Pope John Paul II confessed everyday. He obviously had a clear view of what sin is.:slight_smile:


Indeed we are all sinners so there is no problem there.

However, lets assume for a moment that this individual was confessing to a priest who was a great sinner: It wouldn’t affect the validity of the confession one bit.

Not to mention that the priest may be struck by the humble confession and turn away from sin in his own life. Your friend could be missing out on doing a great good.



Not quite every day.

But ask your friend - if they had a doctor who had, say, terminal cancer or something, but was otherwise still totally able to peform an operation that they desperately needed, would they refuse to use the services of that doctor?


Good point. I think the root to all of this is to stress that they are not really confessing to a priest, but to Jesus. Are there any Bible verses that support this notion?:shrug:


Consider the priests are ordained by the bishops who are the successors of the Apostles, they too were given the authority to forgive sins.

Jesus granted the Apostles the authority to forgive sins clearly in John 20:19

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for the fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them. “Peace be with you.” When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciple were glad when they saw the Lord. 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, “Received the** Holy Spirit**. If you** forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven**; if you retain the sins of any, they are retain.”


Very simple - the verse is ‘whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven’, not ‘whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven - but only if you’re sinless yourself’. And especially not ‘whose sins they don’t bother to approach you about because they don’t feel like it, are forgiven’


Very nice analogy Lily! :clapping: That hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it?



I understand that, but I was referring to the belief that the priest is acting in the person of Jesus. This is different than just following Jesus’ command. Is it actually Jesus that we are confessing to?




Yes indeed! My pastor says that most priests can’t remember what they hear in the confessional by the time they get out, and a book I read described confession as “whispering into the ear of Christ”, which I think is a good description.


They dont want to come clean in front of a priest who may very well be a greater sinner? Hmmmm - Im afraid I dont follow the logic at all. You think they would feel more comfortable in front of someone with no sins at all? Where is the comfort in that?
The obvious problem with this person’s rationale is that they somehow believe that the sinlessness of the priest contributes to their own forgiveness. The person has lost sight of the fact that it is God, the sinless One, who is doing the forgiving through the ministry of the priesthood. I dont believe that is the problem, however. I believe this person is simply making excuses as others have suggested.


No, I just think it is viewed as hipocracy, when the church wants the faithful to confess “lesser” sins, when they are covering up “major” sins that they themselves commit. Again, this is not to blame all for the sins of the few, just to point out a stumbling block for my family member. Maybe they are just looking for a reason not to go.


It is a much bigger hipocracy to claim to be Catholic and use this excuse to not go to confession.

By the way, who are the “they” in the sentence above? And if indeed they did this, were they acting as the “Church”?


You don’t think he leaves the room, do you?

Actually, I heard of one case where a priest, who had been living a “problematic” life was brought to repentance by hearing the confession of someone who had turned away of similar sins. The priest thought: “This man should be hearing MY confession.” Turned his life around.


In a family:
The parents probably are the ones who are more sinning.
Their young kid is probably the most innocent one.

Yet, the parents want their kid to tell them what the kid has done wrong, etc …

Is it because the parents are sinless or because their authority is as being parent?

In the same way, Jesus has given the authority to apostles, priests, and you are to obey.


Terrific point. This really hits the nail on the head.


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