“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, Jesus showed himself to his apostles. He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20: 19, 22-23).
Sinners wound God’s love and honor, the person’s dignity to be called a child of God, and the spiritual well-being of the Church of which we are all parts of the body. No evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners, the Church, and the world.
Returning to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of grace. God is rich in mercy and desires the salvation of His people. This return to God – conversion and repentance – entails sorrow for sins and the firm purpose of sinning no more. Conversion touches the past; the future is nourished by hope in God’s benevolent mercy. Contrition must be inspired by motives that arise from faith.
The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament that has been called by many names through the centuries – the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance or reconciliation. In the sacrament of reconciliation, there are three actions of the penitent – repentance, confession or disclosure of the sins to the priest, and the intention to do works of reparation; this is followed by the priest’s absolution. One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and the Church must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins remembered after carefully examining one’s conscience. The confession of venial faults is also strongly recommended. The confessor proposes the performance of certain acts of penance to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin in order to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ.