Why Do we need priest to forgive mortal sins


I’ve recently converted to Catholicism and would probably be labeled as a prior Fundamentalist. I love apologetics and was hoping someone could help me understand where my logic is either incorrect or finish my logic.

  1. Peter is the first Pope and charged with the foundation of the Church (Matthew 16)
  2. Peter has the authority to pass on Bishopness (Acts 1: 12-26)
  3. God commands his disciples to go out and gives them the authority to forgive sins
  4. In order for a priest to forgive you for your sins you must tell them what they are (confession)
  5. Priest are supposed to be a fill in for Jesus
  6. However, Jesus gives them the authority to forgive sines, but that does not explicitly or even implicitly prevent someone from confessing your sins directly to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.

As I understand it God is not bound by the sacraments, and I know that confession is not required for someone who might not have access to a priest, such as someone who is in a country that does not offer confession.

My logic is more for people who are in a country with access to a priest. Is it simply something that God said to do therefore the Church teaches that it is the only way to be forgiven of a mortal sin? Why could someone not simply pray directly to God to forgive them their sins?

If someone could help me complete my logic or explain where my logic might be a little skewed it would be much appreciated.



We do not, strictily speaking, require a priest to forgive sins. God forgives sins, and it is possible to perform a perfect act of contrition and be forgiven of all of your sins without the aid of a priest.

However, we can never be sure our contrition is perfect, and using this method we have no assurance that our sins are forgiven. Sure, people may claim that they feel like their sins are forgiven, but that is a subjective notion which cannot be relied on.

Christ instituted reconciliation through the priesthood specifically to avoid this lack of assurance. When you hear those words, “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit” (to me, the most beautiful words ever uttered), you are forgiven. Unless you have purposefully withheld mortal sins, or in some way tried to hide your faults from the priest, or have no intentions of stopping sinning, those words are God’s clear sign that you are forgiven.

That is why we must go to a priest, God wants us to so we have assurances of our forgiveness.

As for those people without direct access to a priest, we cannot say for sure, but I am confident God hears their pleas for forgiveness and takes their circumstances into account. They won’t be held accountable for situations that are outside of their control.

Direct forgiveness from God is simply not the preferred method, since we cannot be sure of anything.



Too add to this, our sins wound the Body of Christ. The main part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is God working through the ministry of the Church to forgive you and cleanse you of your past sins, but there is also a part about you reconciling yourself with the mystical Body of Christ, the Church. So in order to bring yourself back into the community, you tell the Church’s representative what you did, and he, acting In Persona Christi then allows you back into the community. Because, while not every mortal sin carries the canonical penalty of excommunication, one should not be receiving the Sacraments if they are in a state of sin, so essentially, when you sin mortally, you cut yourself off from full graces in the Church and the Sacraments.


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