If someone came to you saying, "I have no faith in God but wish to know Him." What do you do?
The text book response is to live a life of good works, come to Church, mimic what the faithful do, and slowly grow into the faith. This is not to say that works will save you but rather by living a life of works faith may be developed over time, God willing.
Sorry, I don't understand the relevance.
The mission of the Priest is not to absolve sin which only God does but rather to spread the Faith.
Depends where you are going with this.
-Even Catholics don't believe the priest absolved the sin. It's the power of God through the priest by the authority from Jesus.
- the article in the OP makes both cases, hence the thread
He gives penance not as an act which in itself absolves sin but rather as a tool to grow in faith inorder to not sin anymore. Spiritual Fathers may order someone who has not sinned to do much more extreme "penance" not as punishment but inorder to grow in faith. In other words, performing good works is not the sign of a sinful person seeking absolution of their sins but rather the sign of a faithful person doing God's will.
The difference can be pointed out by pointed out that the Vatican holds that once a priest is ordained, "he is a priest forever." Hence the term defrocking, i.e. sort of like the French ceremony of tearing off the insignia of a court martialed officer dishonorably discharged, which holding that he can still validly perform sacraments but not licitly. The Orthodox term is correctly "laicized," because a deposed priest's sacraments would be held as void after the deposition.
In the Vatican practice, a priest can say mass all by himself. According to Orthodox canonical practice, priest must have at least one other Orthodox with him: the Ethiopian Church by canon requires a deacon and a chanter and so many of the faithful (I forget the number).
Going back to the verse of the OP, yes it refers to confession, as it is in the prayer of absolution, already quoted, which leads to another distinction. The Vatican holds that the priest is another Christ (Sacerdos alter Christus) who acts in persona Christi. The Orthodox priest is the deputy of the Orthodox episcopate, which the Apostles addressed as fellow presybters (I Peter 5:1) after they had received, as "Holy Brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," the priesthood of "Jesus Christ the Bishop of souls" (I Peter 2:25), "the Apostle and Chief Priest of our Confession, Who was faithful to Him Who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house" (Heb. 3:1-2).
The sacramental formulas "I baptize you..." "I absolve you..." "I declare you [man and wife]..." versus "the servant of God...is baptized" "May our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, through His grace and compassion and love for mankind, forgive thee my child...all your sins..." "The servant of God...is crowned to the handmaiden of God..." etc.
So the priest does exercise Christ's priesthood. But since it is Christ's, not his, he can only do so as his conscience allows him to be faithful as a partaker of the heavenly calling. So I know Orthodox priests who refuse to baptize grandchildren unless they have explicit consent and commitment from the parents, and who will refuse absolution if it repentance is not brought: I recall one case where a woman wanted absolution from abandoning her husband (that she raised her voice ever higher arguing with the priest is how we knew. A year later I saw her and the husband like honeymooners). I know someone who could not receive communion at his daughters parochial Greek Orthodox school, untill he recently got a letter from our Antichian bishop absolving him over his divorce (the Antiochian parish priest, knowing the situation, had done so and given him communion already). It is fully within an Orthodox priest's right and duty to refuse anyone communion if they do not know them and should doubt their preparation (I've never seen that happen, but every priest I know asks for some confirmation from a stranger if they are Orthodox, from where, and are they prepared).
I also know Orthodox priests who refuse to marry couples who they do not see committed to the requirements of Christian marriage. I am not sure about the ability for the Vatican's priests to do that, seeing as they think that the couple marry each other.
But to penance, it is not quid pro quo. The priest does not impose a penance to earn absolution. Rather absolution is like stabalizing a patient, and penance is the treatment plan to nurse the patient back to full health, and prevent relapse. So as far as absolution, the priest's contributes nothing except administering in accord with the Church: given absolution without repentance is like a doctor writting prescriptions for a drug addict, and is much like giving communion to those unprepared and baptizing children of households devoid of Faith. As far as "penance," it is the pastoral responsibility given those about whom Hebrews (13:17) says "Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you."