By Elizabeth Tenety
Image via littleiapps.com/
Bless me, Father, for I have an iPhone app which says that you should bless me now.
Confession: The Roman Catholic App has landed at Apple and according to its creators is, “designed to be used in the confessional [as] the perfect aid for every penitent.”
The customizable program, endorsed by the U.S. Bishops (it even comes with a Nihil Obstat, an official signal of theological endorsement) aids Catholics in their examination of conscience and guides them to “prayerfully prepare for and participate in the Rite of Penance.”
During confession, Catholics tell the ministering priest the sins they have committed, receive wisdom or guidance, are assigned a penance, express their contrition and are granted absolution. For many, it’s a sacrament fraught with emotion. It’s also increasingly unpopular, and today nearly half of Catholics never go.
According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, a 2008 study found that 45 percent of Catholics said they never participate in the the sacrament. Only 26 percent confess their sins at least once a year, despite church teaching that commands a yearly confession.
The Catholic Church in America has tried a variety of approaches to increase participation in the sacrament, which has been declining for decades. In recent years, the Archdiocese of Washington has used Lent –a traditional season of penance –as an opportunity to remind Catholics that “The Light is On For You.”
The iPhone and iPad app not only adds a dash of the 21st century to the ancient practice, but its specificity may make it easier for sinners to repent. Among its features are “custom examination of conscience based upon age, sex, and vocation (single, married, priest, or religious)” (since sex, for example, is permitted for married couple but not singles, priests or religious), “password protected accounts” (there remains the silence of the confessional) and the “ability to add sins not listed in standard examination of conscience.” Gulp.
Confession: The Roman Catholic App seems more than a gimmick, but will consumers take it seriously?