After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles “so that
repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name
to all nations.”
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:
[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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
528 St. Augustine,
214, 11: PL 38, 1071-1072.
I, 11, 5.
531 Cf. St. Ambrose,
I, 15: PL 16, 490.
532 St. John Chrysostom,
3, 5: PG 48, 643.
533 St. Augustine,
213, 8: PL 38, 1064.