Why confessión to a priest?
Anonymous asked this question on 6/10/2000:
I have a few questions about the Catholic practices. Before I begin, I would just like to say that I am in no way trying to discredit the Catholic faith, or offend anyone. I am just curious!
#1: Why do Catholics pray to Patron Saints when the Bible says to pray only to God and His Son?
#2: I thought I read in the Bible (not sure of this one!) that God is the only one to be called Father. If this is true, why are priests called Father?
#3: How can a priest listen to a person's sins, tell them to say some "Hail Mary's" and "Our Fathers" and say they are forgiven? Doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible to confess only to God?
Again, I would like to say again that I'm not trying to offend anyone! I know this is a sensitive subject, but I would really like to have feed back on this from some practicing Catholics!
Thank You and God bless :)
mscperu gave this response on 6/10/2000:
If you don't mind I want to begin with the third question.
Christ has given His Church the same mission He has received from the Father:
John 20:21 Again Jesus said,"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
You have to consider the practice of the Church in the first centuries realizing this mission. Those who sinned (apostasy, murder, adultery) were expelled from the Christian community, i.e. they couldn't participate anymore in the Eucharist. They had to do penance and they used to stand at the door of the celebration's place asking the entering Christians to pray for them. When the Bishop or the priest of the community judged that there was enough penance and guarantee to avoid a relapse he-she was admitted anew to the community. The external sign was that the Bishop-priest imposed his hands on the head of the person involved and then led him to his place in the community he-she formerly occupied and they could receive again the Eucharist.
Once the Church grew too much to realize this in public - imagine a Parrish of 15 000 - the acceptance to the community passed to private confession. The Irish missionary introduced this. The sign is not the expelling and re-admittance. The sign is that the forgiven one is admitted anew to receive holy communion he can't receive being in mortal sin.
The Church prescribes the rite of imposition of hands. If it is not possible the priest should at least extend his hand giving the absolution. So you see, even in private confession it is the admittance to the community that marks the forgiving of sin.
We have lost in many instances the conscience that we are members of a real body of believers in Christ, not only of a spiritual entity. The real sign that you are forgiven is that you can participate in the Eucharist of Christ's body and blood. Your sin has cut you off. The confession re-admits you to the community and the Eucharist.
Your question is to be forgiven too, because there is no conscience that the mortal sin cuts you of the Body of Christ, the Church and that there is a visible sign of forgiveness: be a member again.
The protestant brethren cannot understand this because their concept of Church is purely spiritual in what regards the forgiving of sin. There are some evangelists who are re-implanting this service in there Church. But there is no authority to forgive. The pray that God may forgive.
The Catholic Church says: "I forgive you in the name..."
Read the other answers to your second question and you will find good explanations.
Some communities foster the habit to call the priests: brother. At the same time they do not speak about priests because in the Scripture there is only one Priest, Jesus Christ. So they call them presbyter, elder like Paul used to say.
The first question is amply treated in an other question on the board: "Adoring statues". You will find there very good answers. Go and read them.
God bless you
Anonymous rated this answer:
Thank You! I now understand.