For people don't know how to offer absolution by themselves, nor do they have the power to do so. They lack the power to annihilate a sin once it has taken place. They need outside assistance. Divesting a sin of it's validity, voiding it, rubbing it out of time, in other words making something into nothing, requires a mysterious and supernatural act. Only God - because he is exempt from earthly laws, because He is free, because He can work miracles - may wash away sin, transform it into nothing, and absolve the sinner. Man can hold out absolution to his fellow man only insofar as he founds it on divine absolution.
Milan Kundera, The Joke