While it raised alot of eyebrows this week, especially those practising Catholics, (I'm an RC=Retired Catholic) the Vatican has made it clear, there is no substitute for sitting in the confessional and dishing all your dirt to the priest, standing in for the Big Guy.
The headlines were of course designed to draw readers in but if you read deeper into the articles about Confession: A Roman Catholic iPhone app, you'd realize, the whole purpose is just to get you to examine your conscience... in other words... get all your ducks in a row so you don't forget to confess ALL your sins when you get into that little closed off room.
This is directly from iTunes:
"Designed to be used in the confessional, this app is the perfect aid for every penitent. With a personalized examination of conscience for each user, password protected profiles, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament, this app invites Catholics to prayerfully prepare for and participate in the Rite of Penance. Individuals who have been away from the sacrament for some time will find Confession: A Roman Catholic App to be a useful and inviting tool."
And here's the link to the app itself!
For any who were raised in the Catholic church, you'll remember as a young person that the Sacrament of Penance was one of the most intimidating of all the practises. I'm not sure if everyone's experience was the same, but in the 8th grade, we had to take religion classes in preparation for our premier visit to that little house of sin. We were told what constituted a sin, that the priest represented God, and that as long as we confessed everything, and did the Acts of Contrition the priest told us to, we would be absolved of all of the wrongs, of course, until the next time.
In walks technology and ruffles some feathers. We all know that church-going numbers are dwindling, regardless of the doctrine or discipline, so what better way to top-up the collection plate than to charge a buck or two for a smart phone app that makes you feel like a better person?
Is that really the purpose? Not likely but I think the Roman Catholic Church is trying desperately to save face and appear "hip" and embracing of new technology. Something's got to take the attention away from all those lawsuits involving priests preying on children.
While I think it's a farce, in a way, you've got to commend the Catholic Church for at least creating something other than "bad press" and trying something new.
Will it bring people back through the doors and into the pews in droves?
About as much chance as Father Guido Sarcucci has of becoming Pope.