Definition: The remission of sin (or of the punishment due to sin) granted by the Church through the sacrament of penance. In order to be absolved, Catholics must be contrite, must confess their sins, and must perform the act(s) of satisfaction as determined by the priest. Absolution is ineffective if the person has the wrong attitude or if the person does not perform the proffered satisfaction. Also, if the person “hides” a sin from the priest during confession, not only is that particular sin not forgiven, but the Catholic has committed a serious sin because of the faulty confession. This cancels all absolution – the Catholic who started with five sins to confess leaves with six. A remarried Catholic is forbidden from receiving penance until they receive a decree of nullity (annulment) from the Church. They are considered to be in a perpetual state of serious sin, and cannot receive absolution.
Discussion: The power to absolve sinners from the penalty of sin is given to all who preach the good news of Jesus Christ, not to a privileged class of priests and bishops. The penalty for sin is forever removed at the moment a person trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior. No additional satisfaction for sin is necessary for salvation, such as praying five Hail Mary’s. Jesus paid the full price for sin. After being justified, the child of God is cleansed from the effects of sin by direct confession to God (1 Jn. 1:9). The mediation of a priest causes the Catholic to be placed further from the forgiveness available through Christ, our only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).
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