Does man or God forgive sins?

I was raised in a Protestant church but am newly Catholic. I have had a lifetime of being able to defend my faith from a Protestant standpoint but am still in the process of growing my confidence in defending the Catholic faith.

One of my friends sent me this: “In my mind, what you are saying is that there are men who have the power to take away my sins, that Jesus alone can’t save me, and that men will judge if I’m to be rewarded with sainthood. Also, that all members of the Church (made up of the saved/saints in heaven, souls in purgatory, and the Christians on Earth) are subject to a man who is vested with ultimate executive, legislative, and judicial authority. That’s my understanding of part of the Catholic system.”

I need a bit of help in breaking this apart to be able to respond appropriately.

In regard to the first question, my understanding is that Christ alone has the power to take away sins but that confessing sins is scriptural. A priest does not take away sins but a Priest, through the power Christ takes away sins. Christ is key.

Any help would be appreciated.

Blessings and Peace.

You are correct that it is only God who forgives sins. In sacraments we believe that Jesus is acting through the Church in the person of the priest. As the Catechism states:

Only God forgives sin

**1441 **Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.

**1442 **Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of reconciliation.” The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.”

As to the matter of saints, the Church does not “make” saints, it merely recognizes those who are saints. The Church is not putting someone in heaven, the Church is recognizing that a person is already in heaven.

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