This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)
How are we to look at sinners? St Paul identifies himself as the chief of them (an identity we claim for ourselves before receiving Communion). Jesus says He came to seek and save sinners, which is the Gospel which St Paul proclaims (and how we became part of the Church – Christ seeking us out as sinners and inviting us in). We are to see sinners as Christ sees them – because this is how He also sees us. We are to love them as Christ loves us (John 13:34), for while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We are to treat them as we have been treated by Christ. We are to treat them with the same spirit as Christ treats us. This applies to all of us, but very particularly to those involved in any kind of ministry within the Church.
Fr Alexis Trader writes about how a father confessor, or for that matter, a godparent, should treat their godson or goddaughter who has sinned.
“The virtues of love, faith, and humility should be manifest in the way the spiritual father approaches his spiritual child. Without unfeigned love for the spiritually sick and a desire for their restoration to health, the spiritual father can hardly be considered a spiritual physician at all. Without unshakable faith in God, he might be tempted to pronounce those who have been severely wounded in the Christian life to be dead, because he is blind to the fact that God can raise up both confessors and martyrs from those reckoned to be lost.
And without humility, he is in danger of resembling a physician who administers medicines to the sick and does not look after the poison of his own infection.” (ANCIENT CHRISTIAN WISDOM AND AARON BECK’S COGNITIVE THERAPY, p 154)