Thursday, February 10, 2011

USCCB Statement on iPhone Confession App

The USCCB has issued a statement to clarify the misunderstandings that are being generated with regard to release and purpose of the iPhone Confession app.


I stated some concern about the use of technology in such an intimate setting as the confessional, and reading the statement doesn't assuage my concerns. While I don't think I would ever tick off my sins on the apps examination of conscience, I'm probably not likely to attend a contemporary praise and worship service either. Those things just aren't for me -- that doesn't mean that they won't help others. And, I suppose there is some consolation in the fact that the iPhone app has received an imprimatur from the local bishop, His Holiness, Bishop Kevin Rhodes (former bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese, where my family resides). He is indeed a good man, and from what I could tell a solid bishop. He would not put his name to a tool of this nature if the teaching was incorrect. 

It is not so much the teaching contained in the app that sits badly with me, but rather the risk of dependence,  the potential misuse of such a tool and, of course, whether its use is appropriate inside the sacrament. It is not simply our memories that we must bring with us into the confessional but, a sure and certain contrition for sins committed. You can't just tick off a box; there is the proper intention that must also come to the confession with you. I'm also not convinced that the iPhone app makes anything more accessible that it has already been. Information about confession, examinations of conscience, etc. were never hidden on the Internet; they're just a search and a click away. If we continue to keep taking the need to put forth effort in our lives, we will eventually desire nothing that requires an effort -- we will expect it all to be done for us. It is worth putting effort into Confession; it is a sacrament that will help our souls get to heaven. There is an appropriate place for tools like the iPhone app; I'm just not sure that place is IN the confessional.

So, with regard to the iPhone app -- I'm not there yet. Convince me.



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