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Confession App Lets Busy Catholics Confess Through Text Message

By Danielle Sullivan |

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Are text message confessions a way of the future for the Catholic Church?

Bless me iPhone for I have sinned, it’s been 4 calls since my last confession…..

Ok, penance doesn’t quite exactly start like that, but it just might over the next few months.

The NY Daily News reports that the Vatican has surprisingly given its approval for a new “Confession” application for Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Patrick Leinen of the company Little iApps which created the app, based in South Bend, Indiana says their intention blends old school religion with new gadgetry:

“Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology,” explains Leinen. “Taking to heart Pope Benedict XVI’s message from last years’ World Communications Address, our goal with this project is to offer a digital application that is truly ‘new media at the service of the word.”

Little iApps says that Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne in Indiana, officially authorized the app for Catholics to use. The app is possibly an answer to Pope Benedict XVI’s plea at a recent World Communications Address on January 24 in which he stressed the need for a Christian presence in the digital world.

As a parent, I have a problem with this. I am all for technology and I’ll be the first one to admit my addiction to my beloved laptop and Blackberry. Yet, to me this app takes all the spirituality out of the sacrament of reconciliation.

My son made his First Penance just a few months ago. He studied and prepared for it for months. During one of the many parent practices, the priests emphasized the importance of being a role model for your kids, how we should all go to confession, go to mass, receive Holy Communion regularly, and do everything we are asking our kids to do. How would that be possible if adults are allowed to confess mortal sins in the form of a text message but kids are expected to sit face-to-face and admit wrong doings to a priest?

Another issue is that it takes away from the holiness of the sacrament. My sons was so nervous to make his First Penance. He asked me several times, ‘what will I say’, ‘what if I forget my Act of Contrition’, and other questions that made him anxious. He was so proud coming out of the confessional and told me how he just talked to Father Mike. Now he is so at ease with chatting with the priest,  I’m convinced he nearly talks Father Mike’s ear off with his tales.

With an already shady record of reporting sexual abuse by priests, this text message options lends itself to an air of secrecy the church probably doesn’t need.

The app will cost $1.99 and the exact information on who the text message confessions will go to is still in the works.

What do you think? Is this a convenience for busy Catholics or it just simply strange?

Image: Wikipedia

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About Danielle Sullivan

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Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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7 thoughts on “Confession App Lets Busy Catholics Confess Through Text Message

  1. Siobhan says:

    “The app is not designed to replace going to confession but to help Catholics through the act, which generally involves admitting sins to a priest in a confessional booth. Catholics still must go to a priest for absolution.”

    That is from the article that you cited. Did you even read it? You can’t “confess through text message” as you say, it is meant to help you examine your conscience as preparation for actually going to confession.

  2. M. Wolf says:

    It may seem strange, but it is the way of the world today. Technology connects one human being to another and in the case of this “confession app”, it may just succeed in reaching Catholics who are spiritual but don’t feel the need to attend church or visit a traditional confessional. It may also be a great way to encourage teens to reconnect with their religion, knowing they can “text” their misdeeds, rather than meet face-to-face with a Catholic priest. Seems to be a morality win-win to me.

  3. Danielle Sullivan says:

    @Siobhan Of course they say you must go to a priest for total absolution but how many will realistically? If people sign up for the app, they will use it as an easy confession, otherwise what would be the purpose of paying for the app? I highly doubt people will pay to “examine their conscience”. You can do that silently in your head…. and for free.

    @M.Wolf Good point, it may encourage those who wouldn’t otherwise go to church at all.

  4. Tara says:

    Actually considering that the Church gives out worksheets to help Catholics prepare for reconciliation, this is hardly a leap. A checklist similar to this is also included in many missals. I wonder if any of the people exclaiming about how horrible this app is have actually been to confession lately.

  5. TJDestry says:

    From the people who gave you “The Rhythm Method,” here’s something else that doesn’t actually accomplish what you wanted it to …

  6. Elizabeth Catanese says:

    @ Danielle Considering that the iPhone is just an app to help you through Confession, and the act itself is a sacrament that delivers God’s grace and forgiveness, I think pretty much everyone would actually confess. If not, why are you bothering to be Catholic?

    @ Tjdestry It’s called ‘Natural Family Planning’, not ‘the rhythm method’, and it’s based on observing biological markers for fertility, including cervical mucus, cervical position, and temperature fluctuations. And it works. Ask millions of faithful Catholic couples who use it to space and plan their families.

  7. Danielle Sullivan says:

    @Elizabeth I hear your point but I disagree and tend to think that many people will use it as a substitute for face-to-face absolution. I have heard from many already who are excited about the news and say that would go back to confession if they can do by phone, regardless of the fact that absolution will not be given directly.

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