Sorry, Catholics can’t confess via the new iPhone app – Vatican

February 9, 2011
iphone apps

(Religion apps for the iPhone, photographed in New York, July 21, 2010/Tom Heneghan)

Catholics cannot confess via iPhone and technology is not a substitute for being present when admitting sins to a priest, the Vatican spokesman said on Wednesday. The statement by Father Federico Lombardi follows the launch of an iPhone application aimed at helping Catholics through confession sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the United States.

“One cannot speak in any way of confessing via iPhone,” Lombardi said on Wednesday, adding that confession required the presence of the penitent and the priest. “This cannot be substituted by any IT application,” Lombardi added.

Read Catherine Hornby’s full report from Rome here. Here’s a link to Vatican Radio’s report.

Some reports on its approval by the Catholic Church in the U.S. suggested confession would now be possible via iPhone. Our original story on this from New York included the following paragraph: The app is not designed to replace going to confession but to help Catholics through the act, which generally involves admitting sins to a priest in a confessional booth. Catholics still must go to a priest for absolution.


(The new iPhone confession app, photographed in Rome February 9, 2011/Tony Gentile )

The app got a thorough review from Father Z (aka Fr. John Zuhlsdorf),  a popular and very tech-savvy traditional Catholic blogger who provided lots of screenshots, lists of sins and suggestions for Confession 2.0 (check it out here). Bill Donahue of the Catholic League was not amused and scolded the media for what he called “irresponsible” headlines. Here’s his list:

• “Can’t Make it to Confession? There’s an App for That”
• “Catholic Church Approves Confession by iPhone”
• “Bless Me iPhone for I Have Sinned”
• “Catholic Church Endorses App for Sinning iPhone Users”
• “US Bishop Sanctions Cell Phone in Confession”
• “Forgiveness via iPhone: Church Approves Confession App”
• “New, Church-Approved iPhone Offers Confession On the Go”
• “Confess Your Sins to a Phone in Catholic Church Endorsed App”
• “Catholics Can Now Confess Using iPhone App”
• “Catholic Church Approves Online Confession”

Most of them are clearly wrong. Our headline — “Bless me iPhone for I have sinned”— is tongue-in-cheek and Donahue may not have liked the tone. But it does not state the app can replace the real thing. Right under the headline, there are two lines meant to summarise the story that read:

* First app for iPhones approved by the Catholic Church

* Designed to aid confession, contrition (our emphasis)

Looks like another case of someone not reading beyond the headline before criticising us.

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CNN’s Kyra Phillips Reports Priests Aren’t Necessary for Confession 2011/02/08/cnns-kyra-phillips-reports-pr iests-arent-necessary-confession#ixzz1DU HSWDPq

Posted by MikeBates | Report as abusive

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Posted by You Learn Something New Every Week…11/02/11 « Achilles and the Tortoise | Report as abusive

What if a priest answered the confessor with the proper penance.

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