JESUS BUILT A CHURCH AND GAVE HIS PRIESTS THE POWER TO FORGIVE SIN
Jesus indeed came to ransom the human race and made a general atonement for all sins by His bloody death upon the cross. The price was paid and accepted by the all-just God. But the merits of the redeeming Blood were to be applied to the individual soul through the Church which Christ established.
Jesus stated to the Apostle Peter: "thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." (Matt., xvi. 18, 10)
Thus Jesus came to build a visible church--despite all those who want to do away with religion and the notion of "church" and simply be "spiritual". "They err in a matter of divine truth who imagine the Church to be invisible, [and] intangible..." Pope Pius XII.
The Roman Catholic Church, like Jesus, has a divine nature and an earthly nature so that she can do God's work in the world. God established the priesthood to stand in for the Bridegroom and to apply the merits of His Blood to individuals who are members of his Bride-- the Church.
"... Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he 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
God breathed on man only twice-- once when he breathed life into the clay of earth to create man (Genesis 2:7) and the second time when he breathed the life of grace into his Church.
Despite modern man's wholesale rejection of the notion of confessing one sins to a priest --it was Jesus intention that this be the method of removing sin and applying the merits of His Blood. This act requires great humility, and a trusting assent to the Church's authority granted to it by Christ Himself. The fruit of such a humble act is an absolute assurance of forgiveness, peace of conscience, and the grace to resist similar temptations in the future.
Fr. John Hardon referred to Protestantism as "old covenant, graceless Christianity" due to the rejection of the authority of the Church, the priesthood, and the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist--which are integral to the new covenant.
The Council of Trent stated authoritatively and doctrinally: "there is no forgiveness of sin outside of the Catholic Church." Nevertheless, modern day Protestantism continues to be a virulent heresy which leads multitudes of souls to hell. It is my humble opinion that Protestantism requires less faith than does Catholicism. It also confines God's actions to human understanding and denies Christ's power to use and transform earthly things--i.e., to transform bread into His Body and Blood and to transform a sinful man into His representative on earth--"in persona Christi".
Finally, those that reject the priesthood and the authority to forgive sins are like the pharisees in Jesus times who continuously challenged His power to forgive sins. But Jesus could just as easily forgive sins as heal the paralytic. Likewise, Jesus could just as easily confer the authority to forgive sins on His apostles through the priesthood as to retain it. In His Divine Providence God allowed man to not only share in His powers to forgive sin but also in His authority to instruct and confer grace through His Church.