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Non-Catholics Section: Can All Sin Be Forgiven?

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Non-Catholics Section:

Can All Sin Be Forgiven?

Important Notice: The following is provided for informational purposes only and may not be comprehensive. We make no guarantee regarding any item herein. We are not liable for any occurrence which may result from using this site. By using this site you agree to all terms. For more terms information, click here


Not only can all sin be forgiven, but the Catholic Church - as Christ's representative - has the authority to forgive all sin - no matter how grave - not just once but over and over again. The basis of the Church's power to forgive sin is that:

 (1)  Jesus Christ, being God, has the authority to forgive sin (see Mt. 9:6)

 ~ and ~

 (2)  Jesus has entrusted his Church, the Catholic Church, with the power to forgive sin. This may be seen in various passages of Holy Scripture. For example, Scripture says (emphasis added)...

Mt. 16:17-19: Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Jn. 20:21-23: (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Jms. 5:14-15: Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters (priests) of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

After Baptism, the Church dispenses forgiveness through Christ's authorized representatives in the Sacrament of Penance (also Called "Reconciliation" or "Confession"). For more information on the Sacrament of Penance, try here. [Note: Although this particular link is designed for Catholics, it may still prove instructive for Non-Catholics.]

Also, note that besides the forgiveness of sin and the reconciliation of sinners with Christ, Confession brings many benefits to individuals and to society. For example, a good Confession...

* May deter future sin

* Provides for restitution

* Gives graces

* Heals "spiritual wounds"

* May give persons tools to live a better life and overcome particular difficulties

* Reminds persons - in a concrete way - of God's great mercy

* Gives persons a "clean slate"

Those who are nervous concerning Confession should be comforted to know that:

* The priest "has heard it all before" - and probably far worse!

* The priest is not there to criticize but rather to dispense Christ's mercy and forgiveness to those who are truly repentant

* Items confessed are private - "priests are called to lay down their lives rather than reveal the secrets of the confessional"

* If they have difficulty confessing, they may ask the priest to talk them through their confession

Finally, it should remembered that no one can escape God. Mercy for any conceivable sin - no matter how frequent or how grave - is available for the asking now to those who are truly repentant. After death, however, such mercy is no longer available. One must repent now, before it is too late. And, don't forget that even if you have virulently hated Christ's Church and its decrees for decades - even if you have openly persecuted the Church or its members, She still welcomes you warmly, tenderly, and with open arms. You are always welcome in the home of the Catholic Church.

"When once you have departed this life, there is no longer any place for repentance, no way of making satisfaction. Here life is either lost or kept. Here, by the worship of God and by the fruit of faith, provision is made for eternal salvation. Let no one be kept back either by his sins or by his years from coming to obtain salvation. To him who still remains in this world there is no repentance that is too late." (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

"Do not, I implore you, delay your conversion to God, for you know not the day appointed to carry you off. You tell me that God has given His grace to be converted to some when they have reached to extreme old age. Does it follow from this that He will grant you the same favor? Perhaps He will grant it to me. Why add perhaps? Because it has sometimes happened. What! Does the question of your salvation depend on a perhaps?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 


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Also See...

* Sin (Topic Page)

* Penance (Topic Page)

* Catholic Apologetics (Topic Page)

* Those Outside the Church (Topic Page)

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