Why confess sins to a priest?

I am a protestant who deeply respects the Catholic faith but am somewhat unfamiliar with it. I grew up with the belief that Jesus Christ is the mediator between the sinner and God. I was taught that we we confess our sins directly to God in the name of Jesus Christ to receive forgiveness and He hears our prayers. If we need counseling, we go to a professional counselor or to one of our pastors who specializes in counseling. I am trying to better understand the process of the confessional and why Catholics are required to confess to a priest instead of directly to God through Christ.

Follow up question:
If a God-fearing protestant were to visit a Catholic church, could he confess his sins to a priest or is that only open to Catholics? I visited a Catholic church years ago with a friend and was tempted to do so but didn’t because I thought I wasn’t eligible because I wasn’t Catholic. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question. :slight_smile:

These links should be helpful for understanding and explaining Confession. If you have any further questions or concerns that are not answered by these links, please contact Catholic Answers directly.
Recommended Reading:

*]Confession by the Early Church Fathers
*]Forgiveness of Sins
*]The Fathers Know Best: Confessing to a Priest
*]A Confession to Make by Tim Staples
]God Is too Hot to Handle: Protestant Misconceptions about Confession by Jason Shanks
] Is Confession not necessary?

The following link should help you understand the Church’s position on non-Catholics going to Confession. If you have any further questions, please contact Catholic Answers directly.

Recommended Reading:

*] What about Confession for a non Catholic?

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