forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are ex-
pressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance
Only God forgives sin
Only God forgives sins.
Since he is the Son of God, Jesus
says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive
sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.”
Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to
men to exercise in his name.
Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his
whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness
and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood.
But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the
apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of recon
The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God
making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to
Reconciliation with the Church
During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also
made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven
sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin
had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is
the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that
expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the
return to the bosom of the People of God.
In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins
the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the
Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most
notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you
the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall
be loosed in heaven.”
“The office of binding and loosing which