Confession and Forgiveness

  1. Catholics go to confession and ask the priest to forgive their sins. Is the priest forgiving them or forgiving them for God? What’s the reason for this?

  2. Can a Catholic pray directly to God and ask for forgiveness of sins?

  3. Can Catholics pray directly to God and will he listen?

Hello travelingariane and welcome to the forums.

You may find this very useful to your questions:

Thanks for your answer, but it doesn’t answer two and three.

  1. No a priest must confess to another priest.

  2. Yes Catholics can, do, and should pray to god. We have the our father, pray before meals, ask Jesus for mercy. And as for god listening - You don’t think we’d all be praying is there wasn’t an answer now and then, do you? :wink:


Well yes, we can – but this is not the same thing as the sacrament of reconciliation and is not a replacement for it.

Of course. And He responds as He chooses.

  1. The reason? God told the apostles, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you hold bound are held bound”. Paul carried on the tradition as did the early Christian households and this tradition goes on today. There are still some very ‘high church’ Anglican (Protestants) whose priests offer confession, so this is a very very old (apostolic) practice of Christian faith which Catholics (and some Prostestants) have kept through now.

  2. A Catholic ‘can’ pray to God directly for forgiveness and just about all Catholics do just that. THEN God gives them the grace to go on to confession where He Himself, through the power HE instituted to his apostles and they to their successors, offers forgiveness “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (not in the name of Father X or Pope Z).

  3. Tying in with your next, ‘pray directly to God’ with the above, the problem is that many Protestants feel that prayer is an ‘either-or’ situation and so set up a false dichotomy. For us “original” Christians, prayer (which is literally ‘asking’) is a ‘both-and’. We pray ‘directly’ to God whether we are alone in our rooms, with a bunch of other people in church, or with the priest in confession. Same as ‘praying’ or ‘asking’ the saints to pray with us. We aren’t using them ‘instead’ of God, we are asking them to join their ‘direct’ prayers to OUR ‘direct’ prayers to God. It’s a “both’ and”.

I think the main question I have for the OP is, do you think that prayer to the saints, or confession, are things which the Catholic church ‘made up’ in a given year and ‘forced’ onto ‘Christians’ who, up until then, had been actively NOT ever praying to saints, or had actively NOT gone to priests for confession? IOW, are you getting confused as to which things are the original Christian practices (confession and prayer to saints which date back to the apostles) and which are the ‘new’ practices which attempted to stop or deny the original Christian practices? (Because you can trace back EXACTLY to when people STOPPED confessing to priests and STOPPED praying to saints, because of words not from God but from a man or men).

If you will read your bible you will find that Christ gave the power of forgiving sins to the Apostles. Also Christ came for all mankind, past, present and future. So what he established was not meant to cease to exist after his death but to last until the end of the world. This power of forgiveness was passed on from the Apostles to what we call priests today by the laying on of hands as in the bible. Yes, you can ask God directly but as Catholics we observe the Tradition and method of confession to our priests as Christ established it 2,000 years ago. One last comment, you ask will God listen? Not only will he listen but he knows what is in your heart before you ask it.

Confession is a Sacrament for Catholics. This Sacrament is based on Jesus’ teaching in the Bible. It is instituted personally by our Lord Jesus. In **John 20:23 **Jesus said “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained."

Priests are representatives of Jesus on earth, their authority were passed down from the apostles. When we make our confession, the priest it Persona Christi, we actually confess to Jesus. With the authority from our Lord, the priest can absolve our sins, just like what Jesus said in John 20:23 – whose sins you forgive are forgiven. In order for the priest to forgive sins, he has to know the person’s sins first, in order to know, he has to hear, in order to hear, the sins have to be confessed, to be said out.

We definitely can directly pray to God and get forgiveness. However, the Sacrament of Confession is a Sacrament of mercy. It helps to hold ourselves accountable when we concretely articulate our fault to another person. It also gives us a chance to practice humility, receive additional grace in order to avoid sin. Not only from the psychological point of view it helps to hear the words “I absolve all your sins”, the priest also gives advices to help the person avoid sin in the future. One attains a certainty of forgiveness, also receives healing. It is a Sacrament of mercy. We run to mercy, we don’t run away from mercy. There are lots of God’s grace in confession.

But the bottom line is it is personally instituted by our Lord, so we follow his teaching.

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