Confession — empty words?

On Yom Kippur Jews must first acknowledge their sins against others and make reparation for those sins, and then ask forgiveness directly from those they have hurt. Only then are they to turn to God and ask forgiveness for sins against God. As Catholics we are taught that sacramental absolution is sufficient for sins against others or against God – God will forgive us, the slate is wiped clean. We are not taught about the necessity of first going to those we have hurt and making reparation and asking forgiveness. It might be suggested as a good thing to do as part of our penance but it is not a pre-requisite for absolution. If sin and forgiveness were treated by Catholics the way Jews treat it then the two priests who abused my family might not have felt it sufficient to confess their sins to each other and offer and receive mutual sacramental absolution. Maybe, just maybe, they would have re-considered their crimes of rape and sodomy if they had believed they would not receive God’s forgiveness without first asking for ours.

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