Q: Why do you go to a priest to confess your sins?
A: The answer to this question partly lies in the answer to the question just before this one (above). When you feel truly sorry for your sins, you feel bad about it. And you hope that God will forgive you. So the priest is there to pray with you to God praying that God will forgive your sins. The priest doesn't forgive your sins. It's not like you sinned against the priest; you sinned against God. So how can your sinning against God affect the priest? If you shot the priest, then you would be sinning not only to God but also the priest. Then the priest can choose whether to forgive you or not. The priest is also there to relieve your sorrow by telling you something like "If you truly repent, God will forgive you." And so you will be comforted because a physical person that you can see has TOLD you that God will forgive you. So you feel better. When you have personal problems, sure you would pray to God about it and ask Him for His help. But would you not also discuss it with somebody close to you, somebody whom you can actually see? You are of course encouraged to go to confessions more because during a confession, the priest calls on the Holy Spirit to cleanse your soul of sin. This further reassures you that your sins have been forgiven. The confession is also a ritual (a physical activity done in reverence for God) that you go through to further strengthen your faith. And then the priest will give you advice on how to avoid future temptation. In the Bible, Jesus told his disciples "Receive the Holy Spirit. Those sins you forgive are forgiven in heaven and those sins you do not forgive are not forgiven in heaven" (Jn 20:23). That doesn't mean the disciples will be the ones to actually cleanse your soul of sin; it is God who does that but He does it through a priest. Why - you might ask? Again, it is because God likes to do things with us by physical means, but here the priest is able to "forgive" because of the Holy Spirit; without the Holy Spirit, the confession is pointless. Through the priest, God tells you that you have been forgiven.