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Why do you need to go to confession to confess your sins to a priest when you can just pray to God and ask for forgiveness yourself??[/quote:rg7w3kxm]
First of all I notice that you have several questions. I would recommend that you start different threads for each question so that they can be answered accordingly and not get all jumbled up. I will attempt to answer your first question.
First we must understand that it is God who actually forgives sins. But God works through the priest and the priest acting in the place of Jesus, we can then say, has the power given by God to forgive sins. In John 20:22-23 we read “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he has said this, he breathed on them and said to them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” Many will say that Jesus was actually saying to the apostles to go out and preach about God’s forgiveness. If that was so, Jesus would have said something like, “Go out and preach that if they confess privately their sins to God, their sins are automatically forgiven.” But what about the part that says “…if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”? Notice how Jesus is using the second person plural “you” in the verse above. How were the apostles to know when to retain a sin or forgive? How is an individual going know that their sins have been retained if they secretly confess their sins? These verses are very clear as to how confession is to be performed. Someone must decide whether to retain or forgive, and this is where confessing to a priest comes in.
This was a commission given by Jesus to His apostles and at that point He gave the apostles a special authority; that authority did not end with the apostles but was passed on down to the present. Jesus also said “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Surely the Apostles didn’t have a chance to go to New York, LA, Sydney or Rio. Jesus knew it would take a long time but He also promised them,”Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20) which meant that the commission He gave to the Apostles would continue after them.
They are many non-Catholics who say that the practice of confessing sins to a priest is not in the Bible. Well, I agree that you will not find an incident where we read about any of the Apostles sitting down and listening to the confession of an individual, but the command is there. There a many things Jesus taught that are not written down. And as with many things, these practices have developed and changed over the centuries but the actual act still remains. Besides going to confession is very therapeutic. One has to humble themselves to proclaim with our lips the wrong we have committed.
Reading about the Early Church Fathers, we can find that confession to a priest was already a practice used by the Church. We see one of them, Cyprian writes that the forgiveness of sins can take place only “through the priests.” Another ECF, Ambrose, says “this right is given to priests only.” The practice of confessing one’s sins to a priest is not a novelty nor an invention but a commission that has been followed by the Church as given by Jesus Himself.
The practice of simply confessing to God in private is the actual novelty that started when the reformers decided that anybody can interpret the bible correctly and they read into it what feels good to an individual rather than what the Church says. Besides, the Bible also says that it is the Church who is the pillar and foundation of Truth.
So the Church is fulfilling the task give to Her by Jesus. Here is a link that can probably give more of an explanation http://www.saintaquinas.com/confess_essay.html