Tuesday, February 8, 2011

iConfess -- To My PHONE???

Greetings, Coffee Talkers!

Today's topic came not in the form of a question, but more as a command from my friend Christina, who had this to say:
"Just read that the Catholic Church approved some sort of confession app for the iPhone?? Blog about this Leslie!"
And so I shall!
I did a little internet research to find out the scoop on what Christina was referring to, and found out that a young man who I knew from Franciscan University of Steubenville (my grad school alma mater) made the iPhone app in question. Good job, Patrick Leinen!
The application is called "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," and is put out by Little iApps, and Indiana-based company for which Leinen is a developer and co-founder. These guys were SO smart -- I'm really impressed! They decided to design a Catholic iPhone application that would respond to Pope Benedict XVI's request in his World Communications Day address for "new media at the service of the Word." Leinen and others collaborated with two priests to make the app, and then sought the formal approval of their local Bishop in the form of an imprimatur -- brilliant! An imprimatur (from Latin for "Let it be printed") is basically a public declaration from a Bishop that nothing offensive to Catholic faith or morals is contained in a particular publication. And by seeking (and obtaining!) the Bishop's imprimatur for this iPhone app -- the first imprimatur to be given for this type of media and resource -- these guys have gotten big press for an excellent app. Well done, fellows!
This confession app is to be used not as a substitute for the traditional practice of confession, but in aiding people as they prepare to receive the sacrament and as they are in the confessional. The app has examinations of conscience personalized for each user, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament. It will help to reduce situations like this:
Priest: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Penitent: Uh... [awkward silence]
Priest: How long has it been since your last confession?
Penitent: Oh, a real long time, Father. [confession takes place]
Priest: Now make a good act of contrition.
Penitent: Uh... [more awkward silence] A what?
Now, with "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," you can let both your iPhone and your well-formed and examined conscience be your guide! Check it out, y'all: http://www.littleiapps.com/index.php
Now, there are apparently a number of other confession-related iPhone apps, but the one I've mentioned here is the only one to have received an imprimatur. This is not to say that the others necessarily contain moral error -- just that they have not been formally approved by the Catholic Church. I did come across one comically irreverent app, which definitely does contain some moral errors, but I'll admit that it still made me chuckle: http://www.confessionboothapp.com/

And in case there are some readers wondering why Catholics go to confession to priests, it comes from Jesus himself who gave this authority to his Apostles when he told them, "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:23). Sure, most of us might have a personal preference for just confessing our sins directly to our iPhone, but since Jesus himself established the forgiveness of sins in a less expensive and more accessible way, I'll stick with it. (Besides, the iPhone doesn't have to abide by that 'seal of the confessional' business, so who knows who your phone'll be calling up and telling all of your dirt.)

In short, I'd say that both the sacrament itself and "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" are legit. So iPhone people, start downloading, and get confessing. And since I'm still iPhone-less myself, please let our Coffee Talk community know how you like it!

Peace and all good,

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