As a Protestant who wishes to stay focused on the Lord, may I confess my sins to a priest in order to do so?


Full Question

I am a Protestant overwhelmed by the guilt of sin. Is it permissible for me to confess my sins to a priest? I think that I would stay more focused on staying closer to the Lord if I were accountable to a mature Christian.

Answer

Catholics do not primarily go to confession to stay focused, though the sacrament can help in this way. We go to confession because we believe that our sins are absolutely forgiven by Christ’s absolution given through the ministry of the priest. When Jesus breathed on his apostles and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" (John 20:22-24), we believe that he literally meant that. If you believe this also, then perhaps you need to be a Catholic. To believe that a Catholic priest has the power to forgive sin when one’s own minister does not suggests that one is acknowledging some faith in the Catholic Church. Maybe you are closer to becoming one than you think. As it stands, one must hold the teachings of the Catholic Church to partake of its sacraments.


Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.