A coworker and I are LOL'ing at the whole local forgiveness vs. Pope forgiveness issues that you mention, Ro.
So evidently, you can nail little boys, commit genocide, kill your neighbor and bury him in the backyard... and a local priest can hook you up with some sin clean-up... but if you mess with the wafer, you've gotta go to the Pope. And if you're a priest, there are a few other offenses that require his intervention.
You've gotta wonder how people can believe that these types of things come from God.
Oh please! I keep deluding myself into thinking that people are becoming more enlightened, only to have my hopes dashed again! Well, at least it's not just the Protestants.... Pope Benedict opening his arms to a holocaust denier as well!