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Vatican City is not okay with confession by iPhone

confessioniphoneappPay attention, Catholic readers. This is important: the Vatican doesn’t want you confessing to your iPhone.

As the digital revolution continues to ease life in myriad ways, the top organization in the Catholic Church has decreed that Confession: A Roman Catholic App, a newly released iPhone app that advertises itself as “the perfect aid for every penitent,” is, predictably, not going to fly as a replacement for in-church confessionals. “It is essential to understand that the rites of penance require a personal dialogue between penitents and their confessor,” Holy See press officer Federico Lombardi said in a statement. “It cannot be replaced by a computer application.”

In case that wasn’t clear enough, Lombardi broke things down into even simpler terms: “I must stress to avoid all ambiguity, under no circumstance is it possible to ‘confess by iPhone.'”

The Vatican’s seal of disapproval invalidates an endorsement of the app from Catholic bishop Kevin Rhoades, who gave the app the Church’s… wait for it… blessing earlier this week. Confession was developed by Little iApps in collaboration with two Catholic priests.

The app is described in its iTunes description as an opportunity for “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.” So it’s not like the app purports itself to be any kind of replacement for actual churchgoing. The Vatican statement is not unexpected however, if only to avoid having worshipers get the wrong idea as to how it should be used.

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