Another Religion Question - Priests

Where is written or how is it known that Priests can forgive sins?

I remeber being a kid in confession and the Priest, at the end of my confession, saying “you are forgiven my son”. After, of course, telling me to do a billion Hail Marys.

Anyway,…that seems to be a large argument for christian orders outside of Catholicism - that they do not believe a Priest can forgive sins.

So,…I ask,…what is the origin of Priests doinf confession and forgiving sins. Where is it written?

I don’t know enough about the subject to answer your specific questions, however, from my days in Catholic grade school (two years), I can tell you that priests don’t forgive your sins, that’s God’s job. The priest is only acting as an intermediary in this case.

I think that’s pretty much a gimmie.

That may well be, but it’s not what you wrote.

Try the first two links.

First, no Catholic “believes that a priest can forgive sins” – or at least not if he has a firm grasp of Catholic doctrine. God forgives sins, through the ministry of the priest, whose sole power is to absolve – to pronounce God’s forgiveness with the authority of his office.

Second, Orthodox and Anglicans hold as firmly as Catholics to the doctrine as explained above. The Scriptural basis of it has already been referenced.

The idea is that the Apostles set apart some men and endowed them with particular faculties – the abilities to licitly act in Christ’s name as they themselves were endowed. Celebrating the Eucharist/Divine Liturgy/Mass/Lord’s Supper is one such faculty, absolving of sin is another.

Forgive the hijack, but why does it matter if your sins are forgiven? Doesn’t entry into heaven just relate to whether you accept Jesus as your savior?

Because if you truly acccept him as your saviour, it carries consequences, such as trying to live as well as possible, loving God and loving one’s neighbour - the two great commandments. Sins are breaches of the new covenant, and a Christian should constantly strive to avoid sin. But when sins occur, you need the reassurance that God will still accept you, flawed as you are. Hence, the concept of remission and absolution of sins, for those who confess their sins and seek absolution with a penitent heart.

In the Greek Orthodox practice, the prayer of absolution that the priest reads makes it a bit more clear that the priest himself is not forgiving your sins, but rather God is forgiving them through the priest as a conduit:

That is a truly beautifyul Absolution, yBeayf, not least in the humility expressed by the Confessor-priest.

You may be interested in the beautiful Elizabethan English of the original Prayer Book absolutuion of the Anglicans, unfortunately now limited in use in the Episcopal Church to Ash Wednesday:

Similarly, here’s the traditional absolution used in the Anglican communion service, following the general confession. (This version is taken from the 1604 Book of Common Prayer, which has been adapted in subsequent prayer books throughout the Anglican communion).

This reads as a prayer from the priest to God, asking for absolution of the congregation, rather than an affirmation by the priest himself that sins are forgiven.

As an ordained Episcopal Deacon, I agree w/ what Polycarp said to some extent. Episcopalians do not look at penance as a sacrament, but as a sacramental rite. A wonderful expression of this is in the old saying regarding confession: “All may, some ought, none must.”

The 1979 American Book of Common Prayer allows for laity and Deacons to hear cconfessions, but per the rubrics (p. 446) they may not pronounce absolution; a declaration of forgiveness is provided and used instead (p. 452).

I have heard confessions. Both occasions began as conversations and I had to ask, “Is this a confession?” Hearing an affiramative answer, I excused myself, I put on my stole (a symbol of my sacred office), moved the conversation to the empty nave of the church and used the form provided in the prayer book with the appropriate declaration of forgiveness. The privacy of the confession is absolute and that seal is never broken.

One aspect of Catholic teaching that is radically different than many Reform churches is in the described relationship between God and sinner. (The Catholic position is echoed in the positions of the Orthodox, the Anglican Communion, and several groups within the Evangelische tradition, but in the Catholic tradition the sacramental practice provides special emphasis that reinforces the teaching.) Sin is never described as an event between God and the sinner, alone. Sin is always described within the context of the Body of Christ.* Unlike those traditions which describe sin almost exclusively as offenses against God or solely as a rupture between God and the sinner, the Catholic tradition always includes a discussion of the ways in which sin affects the people around us. Similarly, reconciliation is always described as reconciliation of the sinner to the Body of Christ which is the communion of all believers. To the extent that a person’s sin alienates one from God, that person is less able to share God’s grace with other persons. Sin is never a private affair and it never harms only the sinner.

It is from this tradition that the Catholic practice of the priest, as representative of God, and as representative of the Body of Christ in the form of the Church, issues absolution. It is not merely a matter of getting forgiveness from God (whom the church teaches forgives the sin as soon as the sinner truly repents in his or her heart, regardless of the act of confessing). but of being reconciled to the Body of Christ.

The Catholic absolution is expressed:

  • This is my phrasing. Any given teaching may refer to “neighbors” or “fellow men” or use other phrases. I choose “Body of Christ,” following the words of Paul, to encompass all the various expressions that are employed.

As to what DanBlather said, he is refering to what many Protestant churches believe, in Once saved, always saved which basically means that once you have accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour, there is nothing you can do that will un-save you.

Supralapsarian Calvinists (nice word!) believe in double predestination which means that God decided before you were even born if you were going to heaven or hell, no matter what you do.

For these two groups, absolution is clearly not necessary in their view.

I’ve read a couple of times that Lutherans have some sort of forgiveness/absolution rite.


Now, how exactly can a priest even absolve sins? It is the view of many, myself included, that the Catholic church is now not at all Christian in nature.

Is there a real need to drag this into Great Debates with more Catholic bashing? As noted earlier in the thread, Jesus, himself, gave the command: John 20: [sup]22[/sup] And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. [sup]23[/sup] If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

And it is the opinion of this non-Catholic that people who are inclined to make judgments of this sort are calling into question their own Christianity. In short, avoid Catholic-bashing, or prepare to be Pitted.

OP - “Anyway,…that seems to be a large argument for christian orders outside of Catholicism - that they do not believe a Priest can forgive sins.”

Christianity is, as far as I know, based on the belief in Jesus Christ and his teachings. A direct quote of Jesus is “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Combined with 1 Timothy 2:5 and the mention of this very schism in the OP, I think it fair to attempt to narrow the focus of the question to Catholic doctrine rather than Christianity as a whole.

If you feel that this is worthy of being Pitted, please feel free to whirl about and gnash your teeth on your own. I have made it clear that it is my view (read: opinion) that Catholicism is not at this time a sect of Christianity due to this difference in core beliefs, but I am not pressing this view on anyone.

Catholics constitute half of the 2 billion self-identifying Christians in the world. And the overwhelming majority of the 1 billion non-Catholic Christians recognize Catholicism as a valid Christian church.

And so, the ‘many’ and your self are a very small minority. Maybe you should consider that the judgmentalism of your minority opinion would have you judged by the many as not Christian.

Peace.