Understanding Roman Catholicism

The Church Forgives Sins

Catholicism teaches that it has the power and authority to forgive people's sins. Here are a few quotes from the Catechism. (Please note that whenever the Catechism mentions the "Church," it is referring to the "Roman Catholic church"):

"There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive." Pg. 256, #982

"By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized..." Pg. 257, #986

"The Church, who through the bishop and his priests forgives sins in the name of Jesus Christ..." Pg. 363-364, #1448

Does the Catholic church have power to forgive sins? Let's see what the Scriptures say:

"Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?" Mark 2:7

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32

According to Scripture, God wants His children to come straight to Him for forgiveness of sins, not to a church:

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

This verse loudly proclaims that forgiveness of sins comes from God's throne, not from a church. Still, Catholicism teaches a contrary doctrine:

"Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' " Pg. 367, #1461

"The Church must be able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their lives." Pg. 255, #979

However, this man-made doctrine contradicts God' s written Word. Many Bible characters freely approached God's throne for forgiveness of sins. The psalmist went straight to God:

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee... I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin..." Psalm 32:5

King David went directly to God to ask forgiveness for his sins:

"Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins." Psalm 25:18

In Psalm 51, David asks God for forgiveness again:

"Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight..." Psalm 51:2,4

King Solomon was also aware that he and all the children of Israel could go straight to God to receive forgiveness for their sins:

"Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive." 2 Chronicles 6:21

God tells people to come to Him for forgiveness:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

God never requires anyone to go through a church to receive forgiveness for their sins.

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." Psalm 86:5

"... if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Colossians 3:13

Why then would the Catholic church insist that forgiveness of sins is only available through her? The following Catechism quote provides the answer:

" Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift." Pg. 256, #983

Rather than looking to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, Roman Catholics are taught that their sins can only be forgiven through the Catholic church. Whether intentional or not, this doctrine keeps people in bondage to the Catholic church.


Once again, God' s Word stands on one side, while the traditions of men stand on the other. God says He alone forgives sins, while Catholic tradition contends that the Catholic church has the power to forgive sins. Which side will you choose?

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities..." Psalm 103:2-3

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