In the Jewish Bible (“Old Testament”) it is God, and God alone who forgives sins:
Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
In the New Testament, Jesus forgives sins, a blasphemy to the Jews:
Matthew 9:2-8 “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, “This man blasphemeth.”
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and walk?’ But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) ‘Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house’.”
And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.”
The Roman Catholic Church arrogates to its priests the divine ability to forgive sins. The RCC’s key text is Matthew 16:18-19:
“I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19a And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:
In 19b we the read:
“and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
In Matthew 16:18-19 above, Jesus is addressing Peter alone. In Matthew 18:18-20, however, Jesus is not only addressing Peter, and not even only his Apostles, but all his disciples:
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Now, it is obvious that in “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven,” Jesus is not giving authority to all his followers/disciples within his hearing that they have authority to forgive sins. So what can it mean? A cogent interpretation is that a disciple who has fed on the meat of the Word and is faithful will be able to 1. ascertain whether God has forgiven the sins of other Christian and thus reassure them , or 2. Admonish them to repent for unless they do, God will discipline them.
There is no problem with Peter being given the keys to understanding and the authority to correct believers when he thinks they need it. But remember Paul, when he corrected Peter:
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
The Roman Catholic dogma of “Confession,” as with all its dogmas, is based on the mother of all dogmas, the infallibility of Peter, who they claim to be their first pope, and its sister dogma, the “Apostolic succession.”