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The following comment was posted anonymously on this post.
I have had this question for many years and no one (even priests) have given a good answer.
Christians confess to priests thinking that they are forgiven, how does that work? i mean, lets be honest, confessions to another human, and the human then tells us that we are forgiven??? on what authority does this human have to say that we are forgiven, even if he is a priest, surely only God can forgive us and only He deciedes if we are forgiven or not.
Any reply would be much appreciated.
The answer is, at least for starters, very short and easy: because Jesus told us (the Church) to forgive sins.
The Scripture references with which to begin would be these: Matthew 16:15-19 and John 20:19-23. You might also check this site.