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.