ROME — Roman Catholic leader Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, recently nominated over 1,000 priests to be “super confessors” and forgive sins that only top level officials would normally claim authority to forgive.
As the Vatican has declared 2016 as being the “Jubilee Year of Mercy,” the pontiff selected 1,142 priests that he dubbed “missionaries of mercy” and sent them out to receive confession from those who had committed especially grave sins in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church.
According to reports, such sins include plotting violence against the pontiff, defiling communion, violating the secrecy of a confession or the ordinating a bishop without authorization.
Francis spoke to an estimated 700 of his selected “super confessors” on Tuesday as he provided them instruction on the day before Ash Wednesday. He stated that some have come to avoid going to confession because priests chastise others for their sins or pry for details about their transgressions.
Priests “aren’t called to judge with a sense of superiority” he said.
“It is not with the cudgel of judgment that we succeed in bringing the lost sheep back to the fold,” the pontiff stated.
Reports state that priests will be spreading out in various nations, as one plans to make himself available to Canadian Eskimos, and another will spend the year touring Australia in a camper.
“Dating back to the 12th Century, those who committed ‘reserved sins’ had their cases evaluated by a tribunal within the Vatican city before being sent to the Pope,” Catholic Online reports.
The outlet also notes that at the conclusion of confession, persons are assigned an act of penance, asserting that “[d]oing the penance will diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.”
However, some disagree with the practice, stating that confessing before a priest is not necessary now that mankind can go to the one and only High Priest, Christ Jesus.
“[T]here is only one mediator between God and man and that is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5),” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries in Plano, Texas told Christian News Network. “The Lord Jesus, the perfect high priest, put an end to the sacerdotal priesthood when He offered Himself the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins to all who would repent and believe His gospel.”
He said that mere men, such as the selected “super confessors,” have no authority from God to forgive sins, and the “pope has no authority to appoint men to forgive sins.”
“The Bible tells us only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:7),” Gendron stated. “In fact, when Simon the sorcerer tried to buy the gift of God with money, Peter, who Catholics mistakenly believe was their first pope, told him to go directly to God to confess his sin (Acts 8:18-22).”
He encouraged those burdened with the weight and guilt of their sin to confess to God Himself.
“God’s Word tells us, ‘If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9),'” Gendron outlined. “‘Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name (Acts 10:43).'”
“Every born again Christian has this blessed hope: ‘God made us alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross (Col. 2:13-14),'” he continued. “Forgiveness of sins is available to all who repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).”