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362

Part Two

forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are ex-

pressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance

and Reconciliation.

38

Only God forgives sin

1441

Only God forgives sins.

39

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.”

40

Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to

men to exercise in his name.

41

1442

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

ciliation.”

42

The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God

making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to

God.”

43

Reconciliation with the Church

1443

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.

44

1444

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.”

45

“The office of binding and loosing which

38 Cf.

LG

11.

39 Cf.

Mk

2:7.

40

Mk

2:5, 10;

Lk

7:48.

41 Cf.

Jn

20:21-23.

42

2 Cor

5:18.

43

2 Cor

5:20.

44 Cf.

Lk

15; 19:9.

45

Mt

16:19; cf.

Mt

18:18; 28:16-20.

270, 431

589

983

545

981