The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
the confessor imposes must take into account
the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good.
It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature
of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works
of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and
above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such
penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins
once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ,
“provided we suffer with him.”
The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not
so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus
Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by
ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him
who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to
boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whomwe make
satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.”
These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are
offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by
Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of rec-
bishops who are their successors, and priests, the
bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed
bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders,
have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation with God, but
also with the Church. Since ancient times the bishop, visible head
of a particular Church, has thus rightfully been considered to be
the one who principally has the power and ministry of reconcili
ation: he is the moderator of the penitential discipline.
collaborators, exercise it to the extent that they have received the
commission either from their bishop (or religious superior) or the
Pope, according to the law of the Church.
2:1-2; cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1690.
64 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1691; cf.
26 § 3.
67 Cf. CIC, cann. 844; 967-969; 972; CCEO, can. 722 §§ 3-4.