Wednesday 16 January 2019

Gerry O'Sullivan: Sorry geeks, iTunes confession just isn't the real thing

Forgive me Father for I am a geek

What is it with Apples and Catholics? When Adam gave the apple to Eve all hell broke loose and the concept of original sin was born.

Now it appears, thanks to technology, Apple the company is offering a way back for mankind from the path of sin by offering virtual confession of one's sins through iTunes.

Catholics can now 'change their tune' by switching off the Devil's music or watching the evil Harry Potter, as the Vatican once called it, and clicking on to Confession: A Roman Catholic app which is selling for $2 in the US.

For the particularly busy-on-the-move deviants, this is good value. For geeks, it's great fun, apparently.

The app has received the approval of an American bishop and its makers, Little iApps, says it has been developed as an aid "for those who frequent the sacrament and those who wish to return". They insist it is not a replacement for confessing in person with a priest, but that it helps you keep track of all the evil you have committed until you have the time to get to a priest for a thorough session.


For those who have a particular largesse when it comes to sinful behaviour, there is a section where you can add in your own particular and perhaps peculiar sins.

Apparently there is no limit to the gravity of the sins that can be mentioned. After this 'confession' of sins, the user gets to pick from seven acts of contrition.

This app is another in a now growing list of apps aimed at digital-savvy Catholics and there's even a Catholic quiz app which is hosted by a tough digital nun called Sister Crack-Your-Knuckles -- perhaps given Ireland's Industrial School past we aren't quite ready for digitally brutal nuns and brothers.

However, for all the clever marketing, this is not confession and the person who goes through this process does not receive forgiveness.

Only a priest can dispense the sacrament of reconciliation, often called 'confession'. What this app does do is dress up a process first developed by the Jesuits of 'examining one's conscience' at the end of each day, and bringing the serious stuff to a priest for forgiveness.

Again, it is a testament to the brilliance of Apple's Steve Jobs who has created a whole new world of technology to help us at things we previously didn't realise we needed help with.

But some things just can't be solved by technology, at least not according to the Catholic Church. It was traditional in the past to call the priest when someone was dying, often for a death bed confession but perhaps in the future people will ask for their iPhones instead.

Yet it's not the real thing, only priests can dispense the final sacrament. So when the iPhone Geeks finally run out of credit and slip off their mortal coil, they may well find the Pearly Gates locked.

The geeks who have relied on their iPhone to 'get God' might find that while there is no app for Heaven, the Devil will happily fill in the detail.

Garry O'Sullivan is editor of The Irish Catholic

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