Why is confession necessary?

I’m new to the faith and not much of an apologist so bear with me. My wife(who is a Baptist) and I were discussing the Sacrament of Reconciliation today, and she brought up the point of “If I can ask Jesus to forgive my sins and He will forgive them, why do I need to go to the priest for confession” to which I said “To reconcile with God and the Church community and because its kind of like therapy to talk about your sins and it helps to be told that no matter what you have done, that God and your Church forgives you” (OK answer, I hope!!!:confused: ). Then she asked if it was an obligation that had to be met and I told her it was at least once a year at Easter(I think?) and she said “But why do you have to do it? It doesnt seem right that you HAVE to to be in the Church”, to which I really didnt have an answer. I know it says to confess your sins to one another, and thats one of the reasons why I believe in it along with the other ones I’ve stated, but what is the reason you HAVE to do this to be in communion with the Church? Thanks for your patience!!! Please pray for me and my family. God bless.

Is the Catholic who confesses his sins to a priest any better off than the non-Catholic who confesses directly to God? Yes. First, he seeks forgiveness the way Christ intended. Second, by confessing to a priest, the Catholic learns a lesson in humility, which is avoided when one confesses only through private prayer. Third, the Catholic receives sacramental graces the non-Catholic doesn’t get; through the sacrament of penance sins are forgiven and graces are obtained. Fourth, the Catholic is assured that his sins are forgiven; he does not have to rely on a subjective “feeling.” Lastly, the Catholic can also obtain sound advice on avoiding sin in the future.

During his lifetime Christ sent out his followers to do his work. Just before he left this world, he gave the apostles special authority, commissioning them to make God’s forgiveness present to all people, and the whole Christian world accepted this, until just a few centuries ago. If there is an “invention” here, it is not the sacrament of penance, but the notion that the sacramental forgiveness of sins is not to be found in the Bible or in early Christian history.


The whole article is quite good. :thumbsup:

(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:21-23)

Typology: Genesis 2:7-- Jesus **breathed **upon Adam which gave him life. In the same way, Jesus gave the 11 apostles the ability to forgive sins.


1455 The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.

1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."54

During confession, we aren’t confessing our sins to the priest, but to God. The priest is acting in “persona cristi capitis” through the validation of his ordination he is standing in the physical place of Jesus. That’s why the priest says, “I absolve you” and not “Jesus absolves you”.


You’re required by the Church to receive communion at least once a year. Many people do this during Easter but I don’t think the Church says that it must be Easter. Also, you are required to confess all mortal sin before receiving communion. So, if you are in the state of mortal sin you must make at least one confession per year. Venial sins are forgiven every time we attend Mass and have contrition for our sins. Strictly speaking venial sin does not need to be confessed.

All that said…confessing even venial sins frequently is good for the soul and gets you in the habit of examining your conscious. I’ve found that I’m much more aware of those ‘little’ sins we commit all the time now that I’m faithful to the sacrament. And now that I’m more aware of them I do a better job of avoiding them. I now try to go at least monthly.

God Bless,

I highly recommend “Lord, Have Mercy” by Scott Hahn


Great book! Be sure to check it out! I think I liked it better than The Lamb’s Supper.

I appreciate all the references, but I’m trying to convince her…is there any other scripture to reference to??? thanks

There is probably at work here a vast difference in ecclesiologies (theology of what the Church is).

The Catholic Church teaches that Christ established one Church, his mystical Body, the new People of God, with whom he made an everlasting covenant, which is entered through baptism, which is necessary for salvation, and whose principle of unity is the Holy Eucharist. She also teaches that this Church exists in the world today, subsisting in the Catholic Church.

This is obviously different from what many other Christians believe about the Church, and it sounds like your wife has a different conception of the Church.

I would talk with her about such questions as whether Christ founded a Church, what is a Church, is the Church necessary for salvation, what makes someone a member of the Church, etc. There will probably be some important differences, but your and her understandings of the answers to these questions are essential for understanding why one has to be a member of the Church, why confession is necessary, why confession to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance is necessary, why the Eucharist is necessary, etc.

Good luck!

Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. (Ezra 10:11)

Early the next morning they went up toward the high hill country. “We have sinned,” they said. "We will go up to the place the Lord promised. (Numbers 14:40)

David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing. (2 Sam 24:10)

In Romans chapter 5 there is another scripture passage but I can’t remember where…

Also, check out this site for more scriptures.lds.org/en/gs/c/49

Good luck!

There are many Scripture references in the book.

I agree with Kang, the book is loaded wth scripture plus is shows how the sacrament flows from the OT. This isn’t something that Catholics ‘made up’. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of Scott Hahn’s books but he’s very easy to read.


“And whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” (Matthew 18:17) Sometime later when speaking to all the apostles includung Peter, Christ says (Matthew 18:18): “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.”

It is dogmatically certain from the Council of Trent that the second text means Christ promised to the apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins. The argument follows in form.

  1. By these words the power to remove all obstacles to eternal life was given by Christ to Peter, to all the apostles with Peter, to their successors.
  2. But the power to forgive sins is a power to remove an obstacle to eternal life.
  3. Therefore, the power to forgive sins was given by Christ to Peter, to the apostles with Peter, to their successor.

The primary purpose of the Church is to lead men and women to eternal life. Whatever prevents the attainment of this purpose can be loosed by Peter and by the apostles with Peter. Moreover, God ratifies their act of loosing. Furthermore, Christ includes the successors of Peter because He addresses Peter, not as a private individual, but as the rock or foundation of the Church. He also includes the successors of the other apostles because he speaks to the apostles as rulers of the Church. In fact, they are, with Peter, the “Church” (verse 17). This point is also clear from the fact that the substantial powers conferred by Christ upon Peter and the apostles were to be transmitted to their successors (Matthew 28:20).

Interesting teaching I heard the other day.

Is it right to say that I trust in the Lord so I don’t need to see a Doctor?
If you trust in the Lord properly you should see that He has chosen to work through Doctors.
Or is it right to say, "I won’t do what my parents say because I only do what God tells me to do?"
It’s good that you want to do the will of the Father, but the will of the Father is to honor your parents and be obedient to them. The Lord has chosen to work through parents.

Much like confession. Is it right to say I don’t need to confess my sins to a preist because I confess them directly to Christ, Jesus? Of course it’s within his divine power to forgive those sins, but as scripture supports, He has chosen to work through his priests for the forgiveness of sins.

Hope that helped,
God Bless

Although many were posted here, there is a great site, Scripture Catholic where you can find these scripture verses along with Catholic explanations.

Scripture Catholic

or specifically,

Scripture Catholic: confession

Personally, I find John 20:21-23 to be the most compelling reason. Jesus sets up confession. We go to confession because this is the way Jesus wished us to. Although she may say those verses refer to the great commission of go and teach the forgiveness of the gospel, they actually do not say that. They say go and forgive.

God Bless,

It sure sounds like confession from these verses, not teaching the forgiveness of the gospel.

Joh 20:21 After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me."
Joh 20:22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Joh 20:23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.” (from the CEV)

Jesus specifically mentions the apostles forgiving sins, not teaching forgiveness of the gospel.

Out understanding is that the Church has the authority to forgive sins. It comes ultimately from Christ, just as the teacher’s authority to deal with minor indiscipline comes from the headmaster. If a pupil caught throwing a paper aeroplane or some othe minor misdemeanour accepts discipline from the normal channel he know that he will get a few lines at most. If he insists on going directly to the headmaster it is anyone’s guess what the headmaster’s attitude will be.

However the frequency of confession has changed over the centuries. Some medieval religious orders used to practise daily confession. The ancient church used to allow only one confession, and penance could be very severe. Today the church says that the minimum is yearly confession. In England and Wales the bishops recommend a frequency of about once every two months.

All these practises have something to recommend them. However unless you have a really compelling reason for wanting a change in tradition, the sensible thing is to take your lead from the bishop. You are unlikely to go a whole year without committing some sin, it makes sense to receive communion at Easter, and a long established tradition is that confession should precede communion. The days before Good Friday are also the ideal time for confession.

That is a mormon website with mormon docterine.

The scripture passages are the same. That’s what I was implying he look at.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.