While Martin Luther felt the Catholic Church had strayed far from the scripture, he was not completely opposed to the basic religious practices of the church. As a Catholic, he celebrated the sacraments offered by the church. One of the basic rituals every Catholic and Lutheran practice is the Rite of Confession. This is one of the few Protestant denominations that has kept nearly the same ritual as the original church.
For those who were not raised with it, it might seem difficult to believe that stating sins to another person will actually absolve them. The ritual of confession has long been a sore point between Catholic and Protestant belief systems, and there seems to be no end to the controversy. While they still practice the ritual, Lutherans apply it much differently than Catholics. The original church has always given the confessor a chance to confess in a private area, but Lutherans often choose to confess at the communion rail.
Confession can be good for the soul, but many people have fears that a confession might be told to others. In the Lutheran and Catholic religions, this fear is ungrounded. Religious officials hearing any confession are bound by their vows to keep silent about what they have heard. If they are ever caught revealing it, they can be banned from their religious institution for life. This allows congregants the ability to confess without fear of being turned over to religious or secular authorities.
The ritual of confession is less about telling of sins than it is about forgiveness, and Lutherans believe that absolution is granted to those who willingly confess. Once they have told their sins and received absolution, they are able to take communion with a pure heart. It is a ritual that grants them the ability to get closer to their deity while still remaining a normal human with flaws and faults.