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256

Part One

II.

T

he

P

ower of

the

K

eys

981

After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that

repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name

to all nations.”

526

The apostles and their successors carry out this

“ministry of reconciliation,” not only by announcing to men God’s

forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conver-

sion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness

of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the

Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:

527

[The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of

heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ’s

blood and the Holy Spirit’s action. In this Church, the soul

dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with

Christ, whose grace has saved us.

528

982

There is no offense, however serious, that the Church

cannot forgive. “There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who

may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance

is honest.”

529

Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church

the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who

turns away from sin.

530

983

Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful

faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen Christ’s gift to his

Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through the

ministry of the apostles and their successors:

The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous

power: that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all

that he did when he was on earth.

531

Priests have received from God a power that he has given

neither to angels nor to archangels . . . . God above confirms

what priests do here below.

532

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.

533

526

Lk

24:47.

527

2 Cor

5:18.

528 St. Augustine,

Sermo

214, 11: PL 38, 1071-1072.

529

Roman Catechism

I, 11, 5.

530 Cf.

Mt

18:21-22.

531 Cf. St. Ambrose,

De poenit.

I, 15: PL 16, 490.

532 St. John Chrysostom,

De sac.

3, 5: PG 48, 643.

533 St. Augustine,

Sermo

213, 8: PL 38, 1064.

1444

553

1463

605

1442

1465