Why do Catholics have to go to confessions with a priest - couldn't they just confess to God
I heard that one of the reasons that Catholics are encouraged to go to the priest instead of straight to God is because of the Bible passage (Matthew 16:19) where Jesus tells His Apostles, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven."
There's much disagreement about what this means, even in the original Greek. The Catholic Church interprets it as saying that God will do whatever His 12 (or later 11) say in terms of binding and loosing sins. And each priest down the line is thought to be "replacements", per se, of Saint Peter.
I guess if you believe that certain humans have God in an arm-bar when it comes to whose sins God will bound or loose, you'll go talk with the humans.
Comment by asker: "thanks...that shed some light on the issue"
(Picture courtesy of: http://marysanawim.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/is-confession-in-crisis/)