St. Pacian on Binding and Loosing

St. Pacian of Barcelona ca. 310-391

Certainly God never threatens the repentant; rather, He pardons the penitent. You will say that it is God alone who can do this. True enough; but it is likewise true that He does it through His priests, who exercise His power. What else can it mean when He says to His Apostles: “Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven?” Why should he say this if He were not permitting men to bind and to loose? Why, if He were permitting this to the Apostles alone? Were that the case, He would likewise be permitting them alone to baptize, them alone to confer the Holy Spirit, them alone to cleanse the pagans of their sins; for all of these things are commissioned not to others but to the Apostles. But if the loosing of bonds and the power of the Sacrament is given to anyone in that place, either the whole is passed on to us from the form and power of the Apostles, or nothing of it can be imparted to us by whatever decrees…If, then, the power both of Baptism and Confirmation, greater by far than charisms, is passed on to the bishops, so too is the right of binding and of loosing. (Three Letters to the Novationist Sympronian)

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