Confession? There's an app for that

Catholic bishops have approved a smartphone app that helps prepare the faithful to confess their transgressions. "Bless me, iPhone, for I have sinned"?

Catholics will still need a priest's absolution to complete the sacrament, but penitents can note their sins in the Apple confession app.
(Image credit: Corbis)

Most iPhone apps are strictly secular creations, but in the case of "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," sacred sanction was part of the approval process. Developer Patrick Leinen says he created the "confession helper" app, with help from some local priests, in response to Pope Benedict XVI's call for the church to embrace new media. (See a report about the new app.) "Confession," now officially approved by the Catholic Church in the U.S. and Britain, walks penitents through the ritual and stores their sins in password-protected accounts, but Catholics still need a priest's absolution to complete the sacrament. Media wags, of course, couldn't resist the temptation to comment:

Is there anything the iPhone can't do?

"iSinned. iLied. iCoveted," says Dave McGinn in The Globe and Mail.

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This is sacrilege!

"Hopefully, your priest won't be annoyed that you're reading your sins off of a little screen and, maybe, peeking at a football game or shopping site once in awhile," says Maureen Dowd in The New York Times.

It could have been worse

The app's moniker, "Confession," is at least "an improvement on the original name, 'A Priest in Your Pocket,'" says Brian Moylan in Gawker.

Isn't confession supposed to be secret?

The bigger issue is that that the app "asks you to register your name and sex, along with other information such as whether you are married and what state you live in," says Greg at Geek With Laptop. "I was always under the impression that confession was supposed to by anonymous, but apparently virtual confession is not."

Spiritual support

Not only is $2 is a pretty "cheap and easy way to get right with The Lord," says Corky Siemaszko in the New York Daily News, but this could also spell "goodbye to those awkward silences in the confessional" when the penitent "draws a blank" on a prayer or their sins.

This app will have some competition

Yes, "the Vatican has made major steps to embrace the 21st century," says Megan Friedman in Time. "But will iPhone-toting Catholics access Confession as much as Angry Birds?"

I don't get the point

If the app doesn't let your iPhone grant you absolution, says Perez Hilton, "what the eff is it? A tutorial?" I thought "confessing your sins to a priest is pretty self-explanatory."

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