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Robert Chaisson wrote:

Hi, guys —

As a Old Catholic who believes in the King James Bible, I confess to Jesus and the Father directly every day and do not confess to a priest.

Therefore please explain to me John 16:26-27.

It clearly states that I do not need to confess to a Priest.

Robert Chaisson

  { Please explain John 16:26-27 since it clearly states that I do not need to confess to a priest? }

John sent Mike the following reply:

Mike,

First of all, Old Catholics went into Schism after Vatican I over the Council's definition of Papal Infallibility.

They retained Apostolic Succession and all 7 Sacraments. Moreover, they retained the use of the same Catholic Canon of Scripture. So this gentleman is not even following the norms and beliefs of his own Church. The King James Bible, while a fairly good translation and is indeed beautiful old English, is missing the Old Testament Books that Martin Luther ripped out during the so-called Reformation. The Canon of Scripture is not accepted by us but used by the Old Catholic Church.

Now as to the text Robert refers to. First of all, in context, Jesus is talking strictly to his Apostles. Be that as it may, the text does not refer to the forgiveness of sins. Rather it is talking about prayer requests in general.

But let's look at John Chapter 20. The setting is Easter Sunday. The Lord is in the Upper Room with His Apostles and John records the following in verses 21 -23:

21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Who so ever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose who so ever sins you retain, they are retained.

John 20:21 -23

Clearly, the Lord is giving the power to forgive sins to men whom He has ordained.

James, in his epistle talks about calling the elders of the Church. That's the Greek Presbyter which was later shortened in the Greek to Prest and later became known as Priest.

James says to call the elders to anoint the sick person and his sins would be forgiven and that the prayer of the faithful would heal him. (James 5:13-16) So again, we have a connection between the ministerial priesthood and Sacrament of Confession or the forgiveness of sins.

True, throughout the centuries, the way the sacrament has been celebrated has developed. In many early communities Confessions were made before the whole Church! Confession, in some local communities, were only required for 4 sins: apostasy, adultery, fornication, and murder but, as is the case with all the Mysteries of our Faith, Holy Mother Church's understanding develops over time.

Now it is indeed true that if one is perfectly contrite for their sin, that sacramental Confession is not needed but our contrition is rarely perfect. By perfect contrition, we mean that our sorrow is solely because we've offended God, and not because we fear the consequences.

More importantly, Confession is an encounter with Christ, just like the Eucharist. Therefore, we need to begin to look at Confession as a great and positive gift. The sacrament strengthens us. Relying on the faith of the entire Church, through the ministry of the priest, who is acting in the name and with the authority of Christ. Whatever is lacking in our own contrition is made up for by the faith of the Church.

In addition when we sin, we sin against Christ. That includes His Mystical Body, the Church so we sin against our brother and sister Christians when we sin, even if it is a personal sin.

The sacrament of Confession is a sacrament of healing, reconciliation, and restoration . . . not just between me, the sinner, and Jesus but between me and my fellow Christians who make up the whole Body of Christ.

John

Bob replied:

Robert,

The passage you refer to has nothing to do with Confession but rather the time when all disciples can approach the Father directly for anything . . . for we will no longer be slaves but sons. You could also be misreading the passage to conclude that Jesus is saying there will be a time that we no longer need Him for anything because we can go to the Father directly. That is not the case, for He also says,

I am the Vine . . . apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5-8

So you must take it in a larger context to grasp His ultimate point.

Regarding Confession: Jesus conferred on his Apostles the power to forgive sins in his Name (cf. John 20:19-23). In order for these sins to be forgiven, they must be acknowledged and expressed, hence [there must be an oral] Confession. This unique authority has been passed on to the subsequent generations of Church leadership, namely the Bishops, who are, in effect, the heirs to the Apostles, which we identify as apostles with a lower case a.

The Bishops thereby confer a part of their ministry to their priests, whom are given the authority, by the imposition of hands, to do this ministry which they cannot do solely by themselves. This sharing of responsibility has existed from the beginning and you will see it all through Acts and elsewhere.

In short:

  • Priests share in the Bishops ministry:
    • who share in the Apostles ministry:
      • who were commissioned, authorized and empowered by Christ.

So, if you want moral certainty that your sins have been blotted out, go to Confession— at least performing your Easter Duty.

We may always go to God directly for forgiveness but often our contrition for our sins is incomplete and we aren't quite as sorry as we should be. Rather than chancing a half-hearted repentance, go directly to the font of Mercy: the Sacraments Christ gave us so as to have a clear conscience and an abundance of grace.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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