Catechism of the Catholic Church

362 Part Two forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are ex- pressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. 38 Only God forgives sin 1441 Only God forgives sins. 39 Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven.” 40 Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. 41 1442 Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the “ministry of recon­ ciliation.” 42 The apostle is sent out “on behalf of Christ” with “God making his appeal” through him and pleading: “Be reconciled to God.” 43 Reconciliation with the Church 1443 During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God. 44 1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 45 “The office of binding and loosing which 38 Cf. LG 11. 39 Cf. Mk 2:7. 40 Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48. 41 Cf. Jn 20:21-23. 42 2 Cor 5:18. 43 2 Cor 5:20. 44 Cf. Lk 15; 19:9. 45 Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20. 270, 431 589 983 545 981