“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
As you know, this passage has been used by the Catholic Church to justify the sacrament of penance (confession) … Council of Trent. Though I’m a catholic, I’ve only bee to confession (or reconcilliation, as it’s often called now) one time. My personal feeling is that forgiveness of sins is something that can be worked out between Jeus/God and oneself.
Still, there is somethingcompelling about the rite of confession … it’s been the subject of works of art, literature, film. One of my favorite movies :-), I Confess (1953) directed by Hithcock and starring Montgomery Clift, tells the tale of a catholic priest who hears the confession of a murderer … he never reveals the identity of the killer or even that he knows of him, though he himself goes on trial for the murder. The idea that there is someone with whom you can share your darkest innermost thoughts/deeds, without fear of such info going any farther, is not only attractive, but carries the possibility of profound healing.