In an article that one might reasonably mistake for being from The Onion, the BBC reports, "Catholic church gives blessing to iPhone app."



The Catholic Church has approved an iPhone app that helps guide worshippers through confession.

The program - called Confession - went on sale last week through iTunes for £1.19 ($1.99).

Described as "the perfect aid for every penitent", it offers users tips and guidelines to help them with the sacrament.

Now senior church officials in America have given it their seal of approval, in what is thought to be a first.

The app takes users through the sacrament - in which Catholics admit their wrongdoings - and allows them to keep track of their sins.

It also allows them to examine their conscience based on personalised factors such as age, sex and marital status - but it is not intended to replace traditional confession entirely.

Read the full article here.

Comments

Stanley Kopacz | 2/9/2011 - 6:13pm
How long until someone hacks into the Sin Database and sends the whole shebang to Wikileaks? 
Alyssa Moirano | 2/9/2011 - 6:04pm
I read this article with a mouth wide open.  You always hear about technological advances and the impact on our lives.  Schools, businesses, communication, even relationships have all been affected by technology.  However, I never thought religion would be added to this list.  Sure, I have seen televised masses; but keeping track of sins on an application was something I did not see coming.  I am not quite sure how I feel about this.  I think that keeping track of sins can be beneficial for many people.  Rather than doing something wrong and forgetting about it, technology helps remind us of our roles in life.  However, should religion require this reminder?  Is this what religion is about?
Joseph O'Leary | 2/9/2011 - 5:04am
I thought this WAS an Onion article - I am astonished at the vulgarity of it, if it really is an official church initiative.
david power | 2/9/2011 - 9:24am
The questions I recognize. 
Take a look at them. I know that it is an examen of conscience but if you didn't feel bad before reading this you most likely would after. The Lord made it a lot easier.Do you love me? No variation ,three times he asked the same question. Would this set of questions make for anything but gloomy ascetics? A genuine question. We are usually well aware of our own failings but His mercy is where we get forgetful. 

I will have a go at a  new Examen.

Do you Love me? 
 
Do you sometimes forget that I love you?

Do you realize  that I love those enemies of yours too?

Have you failed to see the beauty in my Creation and Creatures?

  
Bill Mazzella | 2/8/2011 - 9:45pm
Shame on the American and British hierarchy. I guess their intentions are good in that they want to use the latest technology. What is next? An app to perform exorcisms?
Nora McKenna | 2/8/2011 - 8:19pm
I don't know that paying a small fee to download an app is any more buying one's salvation than using paper and ink one purchases to help sort out one's thoughts pre-confession, or a book on making a good confession.

My only concern is that there's something about this technology that takes away from the seriousness of the matter at hand. Maybe I'm just showing my age, although I tend to embrace most technology in the workplace and for personal communication.

Anonymous | 2/8/2011 - 7:26pm
Why were my comments deleted?
J B | 2/8/2011 - 6:00pm
Beth, you are so right.  Another point

''It also allows them to examine their conscience based on personalised factors such as age, sex and marital status

So, if you're a 15 yr old boy it will ask you how often you have ''impure thoughts'' and if you are a 72 year old woman, it will ask you....?  The checklist technique is more than just a bit shallow on multiple levels.
Instead, it encourages users to understand their actions and then visit their priest for absolution.
So a digital app will encourage users to understand their actions?  And the priest's job is then limited to absolution dispenser?  No, they won't need more time for ''confessions'' - even less maybe.  Maybe they could make it even less meaninful -  just provide a URL to link the ''penitent'' with the ''confessor'' and the priest can ''dispense'' absolution - say the magic formula, virtually. 
One reason most Catholics decided ''going to confession'' is a waste of time is precisely this mindset - a superficial, 3rd grade level laundry list of ''sins'' with no insight provided by the priest as to the true nature of sin, nor help for the person who thinks the surface sin is ''the sin'' rather than the symptom of ''the sin'' - no help even identifying the true source of the ''nominal'' sins.  Just a series of formulaic steps and words - ''Bless me father...''  and ''Te absolvo''
And notice the first person - the emphasis is on the priest.  I absolve you..... Not on God, who seems almost to be an afterthought in a way.
JIM MCCREA | 2/8/2011 - 5:54pm
I was never cautioned about playing with a weejie board - but with other things.

Will THAT be covered in the app, too?
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/8/2011 - 4:32pm
absolutely, Maria!  And it involves a lot more than missing Mass or playing with a weejie board.
Anonymous | 2/8/2011 - 3:46pm
Hmmm. The Catholic Church might now have to allot more than one hour a week to Confession..They might have, oh dear, customers...

Beth: Don't you think that the capacity for mortal sin greatly enlarges itself beyond the third grade?
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/8/2011 - 3:38pm
It's an interesting idea, but I, for one, do not like the examples of "sin" as shown on the graphic used in this article.  The "how many times have I recieved Communion in a state of mortal sin" and "have I been involved in occult practices" show a very superficial understanding of what sin is for a mature person and the grace that is involved in truly changing and turning toward God.  Perhaps it might be helpful to a 3rd grader but for an adult who is seeking to grow, spiritually, I think it's a big step backwards.
Anonymous | 2/8/2011 - 1:48pm
I like the idea but I would like it better if it were rolled out by the Vatican and available for free with maybe an optional donation.  Seems a little close to buying one's salvation to me.

Keeping count of the number of times I've committed certain sins (which I will not name here) has always been a challenge.  Actually, keeping track of how many years it's been since my last confession is becoming a challenge, as well.
Bill Collier | 2/8/2011 - 12:39pm
Does it include pre-programmed penances? E.g., x number of hours surfing the Catholic blogosphere...donate x amount online to a Catholic charity...read x number of megabytes of Scripture online at the USCCB website. :)
Gabriel McAuliffe | 2/8/2011 - 12:17pm
I, for one, like it.  Every little bit helps.
Anonymous | 2/9/2011 - 11:14am
Anne said, One reason most Catholics decided 'going to confession' is a waste of time is precisely this mindset - a superficial, 3rd grade level laundry list of 'sins' with no insight provided by the priest as to the true nature of sin, nor help for the person who thinks the surface sin is 'the sin' rather than the symptom of 'the sin'

I think there are lots of reasons why people don't go to confession, but this is not the reason for most Catholics who do not go.  I think it's pretentious to suggest that most people don't contemplate the sinfulness of the acts that they confess.  While I've never heard of a mass-attending Catholic refer to confession as a "waste of time" I don't see how it would perceived as such merely because the individual thinks that listing a bunch of bad acts was superficial.  On the contrary, if the individual gave thought to the superficiality of the act, then rather than not attend confession, wouldn't such a thinking individual seek out the deeper meaning?

Most people don't go to confession because they don't like telling the priest about the bad things they've done; it's uncomfortable from one's first confession to the most recent.  Many say that they should go, but never get around to it; many of those make their way at Easter time.  Others intent upon avoiding it altogether say that they don’t believe that the priest has the power to forgive sins; that they will be forgiven even without confessing.  But a waste of time because it’s superficial?  Not buying it.