Why must Catholics go to a priest to confess, and then do "penance"? I don't see it anywhere in the Bible. The Bible is THE authority on God"s requirents of His people.

  • 1
    First: not for the Catholic Church, which takes Sacred Tradition as ranking equally with Sacred Scripture. Second: Catholics do believe that the Bible supports the delegation of the power to forgive sins to the Apostles, and thence to their successors the Catholic bishops, and thence to Catholic priests - citing for example John 20:21-23 in support. – Matt Gutting Jun 10 '15 at 16:08
  • If your question is genuine, then we're happy to have you. If you only asked this question so you could have a platform to disagree, then you're in the wrong place. Stack Exchange is about questions and answers only. It is not a discussion forum. – fгedsbend Jun 10 '15 at 16:25
  • 1

The reason you don't see "penance" in the Bible is because of a difference in translation:

Matthew 3:2 in the English Standard Version, popular among protestants, says: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 3:2 in the Douay-Rheims, an English translation of the Latin Vulgate and primarily used by Catholics, says: "Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

The ESV is translating the Greek word metanoeó which means, "to change one's mind or purpose." The Vulgate translated the same Greek word into Latin as paenitentiam agite (indicating doing or performing repentance or penitence), and the Douay Rheims translates that as "do penance." The Catholic practice of penance grew from this, and can be supported from other passages in the Bible, as seen in the accepted answer to a similar question.

Obviously, the Reformers rejected this practice based on their interpretation of the relevant texts, but ultimately, whether the word "penance" is "in the bible" comes down to interpretation.

  • 1
    Interestingly, the New American Bible (Revised Edition), which is the only allowed translation for public liturgies for American Catholics, says "Repent" in that verse. – Matt Gutting Jun 10 '15 at 17:30
  • 1
    Originally "repent" and "do penance" come from the same Latin word. Now, of course, they mean very different things, and the translators of the NAB apparently preferred to go with the English word that to modern ears more closely aligns with the Greek metanoeó. – Nathaniel is protesting Jun 10 '15 at 17:41
  • @MattGutting, I'm from Eastern Europe and our bible was the 3rd language to be translated and say 'Do penance'. Mt 3, 2 svatepismo.sk/listovat.php?kniha=47&kapitola=3 – Grasper Jun 10 '15 at 18:03
  • I would say "repent" and "do penance" have some overlapping meaning. They both can often mean "make right what you've done wrong." – fгedsbend Jun 10 '15 at 21:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.