As Catholic Christians we follow what Jesus and the bible commands.
We confess to a priest because that is the way Jesus instituted the sacrament. It is at his command that we confess to one another. When we sin against the Father our sins also affect our Christian family. Confessing sins to a priest is something that was a universal practice and never debated in the Early Church.
Jesus himself was able to heal not only the physically sick, but the spiritually sick as well. Christ had the power to forgive sins (see Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:5-12).
He passed on that power to forgive sins in his name to his Apostles.
"Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father." (Matthew 18:18-19)
"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I sent you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:21-23)
Jesus entrusted his Church with the power of forgiving sins through this most wonderful sacrament. The priest is simply the one who acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) in the confessional, but it is our Lord who forgives our sins. The priest grants absolution (sets us free from our sins) using the power Jesus entrusted to his Church. It is through Christ, however, that our sins are forgiven.
We do give our confession to God, thru the priest. As stated above the priest is the one who acts in persona Christi(in the person of Christ)
St. Paul tells us, "And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us." (2 Corinthians 5: 18-20)
Does this mean that we shouldn’t speak and pray directly to God and express sorrow for our sins? Not at all! In fact for daily faults that is exactly what we should be doing. But for more serious offenses, for grave and mortal sins, we must repent and confess through the Sacrament of Reconciliation because that is what Christ commands us to do.
Reconciliation (also known as Confession and Penance): Penance is a Sacrament in which the sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.
Biblical references: Matt 9:2-8; Jn 20:22-23; 2 Cor 5:17-20; James 5:13-16;
Matt 18:18; 1 Jn 5:16
Catholic Christian †