Will God forgive mortal sins apart from a priest and confession?


#1

If a person commits a mortal sin can they repent directly to God and reasonably expect that they are forgiven, or does a mortal sin require the absolution communicated through a priest?


#2

[quote="Almost_convert, post:1, topic:319351"]
If a person commits a mortal sin can they repent directly to God and reasonably expect that they are forgiven, or does a mortal sin require the absolution communicated through a priest?

[/quote]

If you are becoming a Catholic you have to Confess prior to taking your first Holy Communion. That is the time to confess your Mortal Sin and receive absolution. Don't get too worked up about your first Confession, the Priests have heard pretty much every sin since creation.

Remember that person must be truly repentant of that sin otherwise that confession and absolution are meaningless. God reads all hearts.

"It says this in John 20:21-23:

"21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

So here Jesus gives the Apostles the power to both forgive sin and hold sins unforgiven.
He breathes on them, which is significant because the only other time God breathed on someone is when Adam was created (Genesis 2:7). Because He granted the Apostles the discretion whether to forgive sins or hold them unforgiven, it is necessary for them to know what the sins are, which is why we have to confess them to them.

I expect you should have no objection to this concept, since James 5:16 says that we should confess our sins to one another. There is no justification in Scripture for keeping our sins secret; the command is to share them. This cultivates humility and holds us accountable to one another. More proof that the ordained leadership of the Church has the ability to forgive sins is in James 5:14-15:

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders 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, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."

1 John 1:9 doesn't say you have to confess to a priest, but it doesn't say you can go directly to God, either. It is silent on the manner of Confession.
•He could just as well be assuming you are confessing to a priest, is it not so?

Even if he means confess directly to God, non-mortal sins can be confessed directly to God,
he may have in mind venial sins.

In fact, there is a tantalizing passage later on in 1 John, chapter 5 verses 16-17. It says,

"If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death."

We would call a "sin leading to death" a mortal sin, as it is so translated in some Protestant translations. What this seems to say is that it is possible for us to reconcile one another to God for non-mortal sins, but mortal sins are reserved in some way such that he does not encourage praying for those. This would fit into the Catholic understanding that such people need to be reconciled with God and the Church through a priest and not just another layperson.

One important thing to remember is that your sin is not just between you and Jesus, and my sin is not between me and Jesus. Sin affects the whole community, as is illustrated so many times in the Old Testament. In 1 Corinthians 12:26-27, St. Paul says of the Church as a body,

"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually."

This is famous discourse on the Church being like a body with many parts and members. If one member suffers, say by committing sin, the whole body is effected. Likewise, if one part of your body is injured, it affects the whole body. Sin is a community matter, not a "me and Jesus" thing. Therefore, you must be reconciled with the whole body as well when you commit a mortal sin.

So to summarize, Jesus gave His Apostles the ability to forgive sins, and the discretion to hold them unforgiven as well. Consequently, they must be confessed verbally so the priest can make this determination. Confession of sins to others is commanded by Scripture anyway. Your passage in 1 John doesn't specify how sins are to be confessed, and hence doesn't prove your point.
Sin is not between you and Jesus, but it affects the whole community." - askacatholic.com (Eric)


#3

I'm sorry, I respectfully assert that SAVINGRACE is 100% wrong. To answer OP, yes.

The Catechism says this:

"1856. Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation (my emphasis added).

That seems to answer it: A "conversion of heart" is needed. It is "normally accomplished" in confession -- but the Church clearly by negative implication allows for other confession than one in a confessional to a priest.

This also makes perfect logical sense, if you think about it: Say I do something horrible, which would clearly separate myself from God. I repent in my heart -- but there is no priest around. The illustration that springs to mind is the protagonist from A Tale of Two Cities who basically repents as he's being led to the guillotine (if I remember correctly). If he must confess only to a priest, he's damned despite his clear "conversion of heart." God doesn't work that way. If He did, He's required to send our protagonist to hell, and, well, that's not how God is, and the Church does not say that He is.

Also, if I am wrong, priests are placed above God in the heirarchy of forgiveness: A priest can forgive for God, but God himself can't if the priest hasn't. Once again, such a position is incompatible with Church teaching.

OP, please, as you go down this faith journey, think most about God's immense LOVE for us and not focus on the hard, fast rules so many posters on this board seem fixated on.


#4

When you go to confession you KNOW that your sins are forgiven. When you don't go to confession your not 100% sure. If you seriously want your sins forgiven then you will want to be sure.


#5

[quote="Almost_convert, post:1, topic:319351"]
If a person commits a mortal sin can they repent directly to God and reasonably expect that they are forgiven, or does a mortal sin require the absolution communicated through a priest?

[/quote]

Sacraments are the usual conduits of grace and forgiveness, however, and I'm not the one who came up with this: God is not bound by the sacraments. But the ordinary way of getting a mortal sin erased from one's soul/forgiven is by frequenting the sacrament of Reconciliation (beautiful term if you take a second to think about it, its deep meaning just dawned on me). I'm not an authority neither do I claim to be, but this is my understanding as a simple Catholic man.


#6

[quote="PolarGuy, post:3, topic:319351"]
Also, if I am wrong, priests are placed above God in the heirarchy of forgiveness: A priest can forgive for God, but God himself can't if the priest hasn't. Once again, such a position is incompatible with Church teaching.

[/quote]

Priests are never placed above God. No man is ever placed above God in any aspect. A priest doesn't forgive for God. If you look at the passage(s) in the Bible where the authority to forgive is written, you'll see that it is God that forgives through the priest. The priest is a conduit through which Christ works in this aspect. If the priest deems the person repentant, then the priest can say that they are forgiven because God will forgive them if they are repentant. But, if a priest thinks the person is repentant, but they are in fact not, they are not forgiven, even if the priest gives absolution.


#7

Cessnawag, your post seems to suggest that my simple and sincere act of contrition as I am led to the guillotine isn't good enough...but it is, because God reads my heart, and forgives me -- period.


#8

bzkoss, I agree with you. Perhaps I was not clear. That is one reason why I believe I am correct in my earlier answer.


#9

I think everyone needs to confess mortal sins to a priest but also wonder if you are forgiven if you have received general absolution from a priest.


#10

[quote="Almost_convert, post:1, topic:319351"]
If a person commits a mortal sin can they repent directly to God and reasonably expect that they are forgiven, or does a mortal sin require the absolution communicated through a priest?

[/quote]

CCC

Contrition

1451 Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51


#11

[quote="bzkoss236, post:6, topic:319351"]
Priests are never placed above God. No man is ever placed above God in any aspect. A priest doesn't forgive for God. If you look at the passage(s) in the Bible where the authority to forgive is written, you'll see that it is God that forgives through the priest. The priest is a conduit through which Christ works in this aspect. If the priest deems the person repentant, then the priest can say that they are forgiven because God will forgive them if they are repentant.** But, if a priest thinks the person is repentant, but they are in fact not, they are not forgiven, even if the priest gives absolution.**

[/quote]

The plot thickens. "Whatever you loosen on Earth will be loosened in Heaven, whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven" seems to contradict your assertion.


#12

I believe the answer is yes. However, when confession is available than you need to confess to priest before receiving Holy Communion.

A priest is not always available. Or, one may not be able to go to confession. I am unable to go to confession because I am remarried without an anullment. I am not allowed to receive any sacraments. Actually, it is my husband that needs annulment. He was married and divorced over 25 years ago. So, it is complicated.

Attemptiing to work on annulment process. Meanwhile, I sure hope I am forgiven. I have returned home. For many years, I was gone. Now, there is no place like home.:)


#13

Actually, RobertAnthony, there is no contradiction. The passage you quote essentially speaks of priests' ability to forgive or not to forgive on God's behalf. This passage is what vests a priest with the God's authority to forgive sins. It does not, and cannot permissibly be read to, require God to adhere to the rules and dictates of man.


#14

[quote="Almost_convert, post:1, topic:319351"]
If a person commits a mortal sin can they repent directly to God and reasonably expect that they are forgiven, or does a mortal sin require the absolution communicated through a priest?

[/quote]

Only in dire circumstances...for example: if you were on the battlefield and death was imminent, a perfect act of contrition would suffice. However, if you were to survive the battlefield, you would have to go to confession and confess your mortal sins. Can't get around that confessional! :)


#15

[quote="PolarGuy, post:7, topic:319351"]
Cessnawag, your post seems to suggest that my simple and sincere act of contrition as I am led to the guillotine isn't good enough...but it is, because God reads my heart, and forgives me -- period.

[/quote]

You are suggesting an extreme situation in which case a perfect act of contrition would do the trick. In normal situations, you must go to confession.


#16

[quote="JM3, post:10, topic:319351"]
CCC

Contrition

1451 Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#17

No, Sister Therese, I must respectfully correct you as well. Your statement seems to suggests that a 100% valid act of contrition somehow loses its validity if I happen to survive the battlefield. I am forgiven, or I am not. I don't lose the effectiveness of forgiveness if I manage to survive!

Moreover, what you, and others, are missing is this: Under your view of things, I can ask -- in fact, beg -- God's forgiveness, sincerely and with every ounce of my fiber -- and I still don't get forgiven unless I make it to a confessional. This is not Church teaching. Moreover, my desire to actually make it to a confessional can be implied: God knows my heart, and my intent, regardless of "magic words" that may or may not make it into my scared, desperate, prayer, mumbled when the bullets begin to fly...


#18

[quote="Robertanthony, post:11, topic:319351"]
The plot thickens. "Whatever you loosen on Earth will be loosened in Heaven, whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven" seems to contradict your assertion.

[/quote]

This implies that the confessor is contrite. If you look in the Catechism:

**1466 **The confessor is not the master of God’s forgiveness, but its servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ. He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord’s mercy.

**1490 **The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future.

If the one confessing is not sorrowful or not repentant, God will not forgive them, even if a priest does not recognize this.

Also, I would think that the power to bind and loose only applies to bishops as it applied to the apostles, and not priests/presbyters.


#19

[quote="bzkoss236, post:18, topic:319351"]
I would think that the power to bind and loose only applies to bishops as it applied to the apostles, and not priests/presbyters.

[/quote]

The sacrament of confession yes involves such. Be it Bishop or Priest.


#20

Forgive my ignorance, but what exactly is a mortal sin as opposed to just plain sin, or is there a difference?


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