I've read numerous post of prayers of absolution and I don't understand them very well.
In one post people were talking about individuals who are planning serious crimes or pedophiles confessing and that they said "priest does not have to give absolution".
But from all I can understand it is not the priest who has the power to absolve sins and only God can do that.
I understand the priest has the "prayers of absolution", but can't a layman say them just as easy as a priest?
Also what if a confession is to one's brother and not a priest?
Only God has the ability to forgive sins. Priests in the Church do not exercise their personal authority when absolving sins. They are ministers of Christ's authority which Christ Himself gave them to exercise. The apostles were given the authority to bind and loose and that authority has been passed down through the laying on of hands in ordination. Just as they are given the authority to absolve sins and make God's mercy known in the sacrament, they also have the authority and responsibility to discern whether or not someone is truly repentent. Forgiveness does no good if someone has no intention or desire to stop sinning against God.
This also has to be looked at in the context of preparing for and approaching Communion. We are told that we need to examine ourselves before approaching. No one is without sin, so it's not a question of "if" someone has sinned, but "where" someone has sinned. As we find sin in our lives we need to be reconciled to our brother before offering ourselves at the altar, and as we find obstsacles between us and God, we need to take those to Him and have them cleared. We do this in confession for two reasons.
First reason is that we are incapable of forgiving ourselves, it must come from God. Even a bishop or priest with the authority to absolve sins can not absolve themselves but must go to someone else for absolution. God is our savior and our redeemer, but he is also our judge and executioner. He is perfect and holy. If we approach Him with an attitude of trying to justify ourselves, He will show us where and how we are wrong and we will be condemned for not trusting in His forgiveness. If we approach Him with everything that we have wrong with us seeking healing and reconciliation, then we know we can trust in Him to justify us for what we know we are guilty of.
Second, as pastors entrusted with Christ's flock, our priests are responsible for the spiritual well being of those that they serve. Communion can be taken for condemnation, and the priest has a responsibility to make sure that he does not give anyone Communion if their heart is not right toward God. As priests have this authority and responsibility, I know for a fact that if I put out everything that can possibly make me unworthy for Communion, and my priest tells me that those things are no longer preventing me from receiving Communion, then I can trust in God's grace to make me worthy to approach because all obstacles have been cleared.
Just as Christ told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more", confession must be done with a repentant heart with a desire and intent to turn from sinful ways.
Also the "priesthood of believers" refers to all believers have Christ and the Holy Spirit in them and the reponsibility to make Christ known to the world in our daily lives and showing forth the love that God has shown to us.
What we refer to as "priests" today are called "elders" (pres
eros) in the Bible. While every believer shares in the priesthood of forwarding the love that we receive from God, not every believer is called and ordained by the laying on of hands to be an elder in the Church.
I hope this clears things up a little.