Why do Catholics insist on playing God by pretending to forgive peoples’ sins? Only Jesus can forgive sins, not men, so why do Catholics go to a living priest. No man can forgive sins.
I agree; a mere human cannot forgive sins, only Christ can.
In this post we talked about how the Bible tells us to confess sins to a priest, but the question still remains, why a physical person and not just Jesus? Yes, the Bible is clear that this is how sins are forgiven, but why?
First, when we confess sins to a priest, we aren’t confessing to just some person. No, I’m not saying priests are God, but they are set apart for a special purpose, and part of the priesthood is the authority to speak and act in persona Christi or “in the person of Christ”. Please check out this post if you have questions on in persona Christi.
In short, all actions of the priest are done by Jesus. Consecration of Eucharist, baptism, and forgiveness of sins are all done by Christ, the true high priest. The earthly priest simply acts in the person of Christ. In that way it is not the man who forgives sins, it is Christ himself through the priest.
The next reason why we confess sins to a priest is that each and every sin affects the whole community. No sin only affects the sinner, all sin affects the community. Sin by its nature draws a person away from God and this hurts not just the sinner but his family and friends. All around him are affected. The reason I bring this up is because the priest is the head of the parish community and he represents Christ (in persona Christ) who is head of the human family. The ripples of sin go all the way to the top, and that is where forgiveness must come from.
Next is the idea of penance. Penance is the action given by a priest after the sin has been forgiven to prevent the sin from happening again. Penance isn’t a punishment in today’s understanding. Penance is an action that helps us stay away from the sin in the future. This is a huge advantage of confessing sins to a priest; you get a concrete action you can perform to help keep you from committing the same sins again tomorrow.
The final reason is hardest to define yet arguably most important. Confession to a human, a priest, brings healing that isn’t there when you confess to Jesus directly. The humility of sharing your sins with another person and hearing another human say the words of absolution is amazingly powerful and does a lot to heal the guilt and wounds caused by sin. These things aren’t possible without another human.