Yesterday, I went to Enugu City, to buy ash trouser (courtesy of ESUT stress – Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science to be precise). I was so stressed and hungry. It took me almost forty minutes waiting for a bus that was heading to my direction. When I successfully found one, Buhari (yes. I meant Buhari – because he is the primary cause of every bad thing in Nigeria) decided to punish me more by causing a traffic jam that lasted for almost one hour.
Eventually, amadioha decided to crown the almost endless suffering. An elderly woman who everyone identified for the sake of the green looking apron with the face of Pastor Lazarus Mouka she wore over her clothes, signifying that she was a member of a protestant Church in Nigeria called The Lord’s Chosen stood up and started shouting on the top of her lung.
The primary message she wanted to deliver was that all Catholics will be going to hell fire, and her reason was that they are condemned already because they confess their sins to their priests. She maintained that since only God can forgive sin, every sinner must approach God individually and not through someone else. She said that it is said in the Scripture that no man can forgive sins, hence to have priests forgiving sins in confessional is a sacrilege and a blasphemy. She further warned that when Catholics confess their sins that they are indirectly taking their priest as God thereby defiling the second commandment in the Decalogue that said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
At first, I wanted to keep quiet and mind my business ‘jejely’ but as it got to a point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up, as a Baptized and practicing Catholic and tried my best to clarify things to her.
And I said “Good afternoon ma’am, There are certain words in your message that I believe are not entirely true. First, note that Catholics do not tell their sins to priests, instead they tell their sins to God but through priests. This is because these priests have been chosen and anointed in the name of Christ to stand for him in the confessional and then minister forgiveness from the abundance of mercy of God in the name of Jesus Christ.
Three basic Scripture passages underlie this practice:
1) Matthew 16:18-19 – “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
2) Matthew 18:18 – “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
3) John 20:21-22: Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he has said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
During his earthly life, Christ forgave sins. Since he would not always be with the Church physically and visibly, Christ delegated this power to other men so that the Church would be able to offer forgiveness to future generations. He gave this as a communicable power to the apostles so it could be passed on to their successors, the bishops.
In this passage (John 20:21-22) Jesus is telling the apostles to follow his own example, in delegating the power to the apostles to forgive sins.
Note that all of this is God’s doing. It is He who, through Christ, has reconciled us to himself, and allowed us to minister this reconciliation of his to others (2 Cor 5:18).
Indeed, confirms Paul, “We are Christ’s ambassadors. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteousness person is very powerful.”
Then the preacher was elated, and with heart filled with satisfaction she thanked me and changed the topic.