Why should we confess our sins to the Catholic priest, when God is everywhere and He listens to us every time? Is this the only way to be forgiven? What is the assurance that sins are forgiven?

  • 2
    Probably a duplicate: How do Catholics justify confessing to a priest? May 26, 2014 at 9:06
  • Except that it's tagged westminister-confession... can you please edit the question to explain exactly who you're asking, and what sections of the Westminster Confession are relevant?
    – curiousdannii
    May 26, 2014 at 9:08
  • You are aware the the Bible commands Christians to confess their sins to other Christians, not just to God, aren't you? May 26, 2014 at 13:13
  • Again this question needs a tighter scope because it's collecting Catholic and Orthodox answers. But I half expect that the OP won't return...
    – curiousdannii
    May 26, 2014 at 23:18
  • Whose views are you looking to learn about here? It seems like you are raising a Protestant objection to Catholic doctrine, but this site isn't the place to resolve which is correct. If you specify exactly whose views you are interested in understanding better we might be able to handle this. Can you edit with that information?
    – Caleb
    May 27, 2014 at 6:05

1 Answer 1


Since the question is about confession to a priest, the answer would rely upon the teachings of the Catholic Church. As such the best place to find the answer about why Catholics would confess to a priest are found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The particular paragraphs that cover this are under the heading "Ministry of This Sacrament" in regards to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here it is clarified that, in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church, Christ "entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliations, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops' collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry." This is why Catholics confess to a priest.

To answer the second part of the question it is important to understand most fully what confession is according to the teaching of the Catholic Church. The purpose of confession is to reconcile one back to God where sin has severed or separated one from God to any degree. A practicing Catholic would not deny the truth that confession could be made directly to God or to Christ but would argue that due to our subjective nature in regards to self, a more perfect confession could be made when an Examination of Conscience is done and confession is made to a priest who, according to the Catechism, "is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner."

Further, as the Catechism states, once confession to a priest has been accomplished with a "contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation."

And while this becomes a personal experience and difficult to justify, nonetheless I believe it is worth saying that people who do participate in confession with a contrite heart and belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church will attest to the power of the sacrament.

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