herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Bless me father, for iHave sinned

Catholic bishops have approved a new iPhone and iPad app that allows users to make confession with a virtual "priest" over the internet.

Confession: A Roman Catholic App, which has now gone on sale through iTunes, offers "a personalised examination of conscience for each user", according to its makers. It asks penitents to list sins they have committed by misdeed or omission.

Senior Church officials in the US and Britain have approved the app, which they say can be used by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

First, it asks you to register your name and sex, and state whether married, single or ordained, before choosing a confession password.

The 'confession' button opens a screen that begins: "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." A series of sin check-boxes invites the penitent to declare whether they have offended their family or, if a child, failed to tidy their bedroom.

A further page, headlined 'sins', then opens with a blank page on which to make an inventory of misdemeanours, followed by, "Receive Absolution and respond, Amen".

However, the app is not intended to replace the real confessional -- the words at the end of the process carry an implicit invitation to visit a priest.

Pressing the 'finish' button brings up a spiritual quotation from a Catholic saint such as Frances de Sales or Catherine of Siena.

It is thought to be the first time the Church has approved a mobile phone application, although it is not entirely unfamiliar with the digital world.

In 2007, the Vatican started its own YouTube channel. Two years later created a Facebook application that lets users send virtual postcards featuring the pontiff.

hnews@herald.ie

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