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Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian, Part 8: Confession

09/15/10

Permalink 11:11:00 pm, by Norgaard Norgaard Email , 635 words   English (US)
Categories: Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian

Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian, Part 8: Confession

We all make mistakes in life. We all from time to time fail to live up to our values or fail to act upon our best judgment. We may from time to time transgress upon others. We may from time to time fail to act when we should. We are all human and none of us are perfect.

It does help one to become a better person to look back at one's past failures and to address what could have been done better. The point should not be to constantly be reminded of one's shortcomings. It is certainly not helpful to constantly be looking to the past. This will certainly not change a thing. At the same time though, it is not a good idea to ignore the past altogether. We should be able to look back from time to time and to learn from our past failures so that we can try to work towards a better future.

In the tradition of several religions including Christianity, one's ethical failings are called sins. I was raised Catholic, so my own experience with addressing personal sins is partially through the Catholic institution of confession. Within Catholicism, addressing one's personal sins is important and there are multiple things that need to be done. One must repent directly to God and ask for forgiveness, one must ask the parishioners in mass to pray for them (everyone says a scripted plea for prayer at the same time) and one must confess their sins to a priest and receive counseling.

Within the Catholic tradition, there are several so-called sacraments, where it is thought that one meets God more directly than at other times. Confession is one such sacrament. It is not sufficient for one to confess their sins to God in private. The dogma of the Church says that one must openly confess one's sins to a priest. Now, this confession may very well be anonymous. In fact, it often is. There is often a dark screen that divides the confessor and the priest. It is quite common these days, however, for confessions to occur face to face. Priests are trained for this and are strictly forbidden to disclose anything that they hear during confession. Despite this, many people have been hurt because of information they provided in confession made it into open knowledge.

The question is why is it necessary to confess one's sins to another person? And more importantly, why is it necessary for this person to be an official member of the Catholic Church leadership? There is no reason for Catholic priests to have control over people's lives in this way. It is certainly beneficial for one to address their own sins and to repent for the sake of trying to be a better person in the future. It is also beneficial to many people to openly confess their sins to others so that they can receive counseling and fellowship and for mutual understanding of personal shortcomings. This being said, there is no reason why one must confess. There is no authority that knows what is best for everyone. The Catholic Church is certainly a man-made institution. All priests are only sanctioned by this man-made leadership to have authority over people's lives.

When I realized that the Church leadership was not necessary for me to address my sins and when I realized that I did not need the help of a priest in order to work towards being a better person, I began to further realize that the Catholic Church had nothing to offer me that could not be found in more reasonable and more modern institutions.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Is faith virtuous, or is it harmful? Let your voice be heard in the forum.
You can also email the me at brandon@enlightenedworldview.com

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