Is God forgiving THROUGH the priest or is the priest forgiving with the Christ given authority in Jn 20?
The authority to minister the Sacrament was given by Christ to His Apostles and down the ages to their successors the Bishops and their collaborators, the Priests.
But, every Sacrament is administered “in persona Christi” - that is in the person of Christ. It is Christ who administers every Sacrament absolutely, but He does so through the ministry of His Bishops and Priests - who have been granted the authority by Christ to do so.
I would say both.The Cathecism states.Only God forgives sin 1441 Only God forgives sins.39 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."40 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name.41 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."42 The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: "Be reconciled to God."43
Scripture can help show how the priest fits into the sacrament of confession/reconciliation.
In Leviticus 5:5-6 we have a solid prefiguring/foreshadowing of confession and this is carried over into the New Covenant. In Lev. 5:5-6 it says, “When a man is guilty in any of these, he shall confess the sin he has committed, and he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord for the sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering; and **the priest **shall make atonement for him for his sin.” Note how the penitent must confess and take his sin offering to the priest, and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. This requires knowledge of the sin on the part of the priest.
In the New Testament we have a number of verses that refer to the authority to forgive sins. In Matthew 9:6-8, we read “But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he then said to the paralytic --“Rise, take up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men." Notice how scripture says that such authority had been given to men. This is significant and is not merely a coincidence. This is the inspired word of God.
The question of authority and power to forgive sin is given obviously to Jesus and this is further affirmed in Matthew 28:18 where we are told, "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
So just how is this authority transfered to the apostles and their successors? In John 20:21-23 "Jesus said to them, “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.” This is an incredible set of verses. They are rich in meaning and power. Notice that Jesus sends the apostles in the same way that the Father sent Him. The Father sent Jesus with all power and authority which included the power to forgive sins. So also Jesus sends the apostles. Jesus breathes on the apostles and says, “receive the Holy Spirit.” There is only one other time in all of scripture where God breathes on man, and that is in Genesis when God breathes life into Adam. This is a significant moment in the upper room and it is at this moment that Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”
Later in the new testament scriptures we find additional verses that speak to confession and reconciliation. The most significant are the following:
2 Corinthians 5: 17-20
Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters [priests] of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (“presbyter” is the root word from which we get the term priest)
Therefore confess you sins to one another….
Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (In Jewish culture and faith the power to bind and loose carries a juridical dimension and has application to the forgiveness of sin)
I hope this helps.
It is both. When God gave St. Peter the power to forgive sins in Matthew 16:18, and then later to other Apostles, this, the forgiving of sins, was done through God. This authority was given by God to the Apostles.
In 2 Cor. 2:10, St. Paul forgives in the presence of Christ.
I think you mean in the “person” of Christ.
Depends on which Catholic translation you use. The New American Bible has in the “presence of Christ” as do other Catholic Bibles (New Jersualem Bible and RSV Catholic Edition).
My Douay Bible has in the “person of Christ” which I believed correctly describes Catholic teaching of Confession. But in “presence of Christ” is found in other Catholic translations, in which I use the NAB in my above post. According to some sources, both can be used, but I must admit “in the person of Christ” sounds better in describing the Catholic doctrine of Confession.
I mainly use the D-R. I have an NAB but not so keen on it.
The Minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: Catechism 1461-1467