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What Is Meant by the “Retaining” of Sins?

Question:

What does "whose sins you retain are retained" mean?

Answer:

After Our Lord breathed on his apostles, he said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22).

“Retained” here means refused to forgive: for those whose sins you refuse to forgive, they are not forgiven. With this sacrament, Christ provides an objective element that cannot be present when we ask his forgiveness privately. There are times when our sincerity needs to be challenged—for our own good. After all, his forgiveness doesn’t come cheaply. We need to remember that he paid the price of shedding his own blood for us.

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