Confession: Is there really an app for that?

You can now confess your sins on your iPhone. For just $1.99, you can buy an app which goes through the “motions of confession,” although you must still see a priest for absolution. I’m surprised that the app has been approved by a Catholic bishop, but perhaps I shouldn’t be. You can read more on the app here.

This saddens me for two reasons. First, if you want to create an app to help Catholics confess their sin and get close to God, then make it free. Don’t attempt to profit from religion. Unfortunately, this follows a long standing tradition going back before the 1,500s when Johann Tetzel said the oft quoted phrase, “When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” He used it to sell indulgences to raise money for the church.

The practice has changed some, but not nearly enough. World travelers know that the Vatican gift shop sells the best cuff-links (my favorite souvenir) and other trinkets in all of Rome. For just a few dollars more, you can have them blessed by the Pope and delivered to your hotel room that night. These blessings travel worldwide as the Pope was out of the country when they offered this service to me. My point–religion should not try to make a profit.

By far the more important issue comes from the need for an app or a priest or a rabbi for confession. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 32:5 states, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

Even my six year old daughter’s catechism teaches her about the three offices of Christ–Prophet, Priest and King. In His role as Priest, He was the flawless atoning sacrifice offered for sins once for all, and He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession on our behalf. Sinners no longer need a priest or a rabbi or an iPhone because we can confess sins directly to God.

So if you want more than password protected privacy, try praying directly to God and confessing to Him. After all, He already knows what you did, and unlike another human, He can actually forgive you for those sins.

So remember when it comes to confession–there’s no app for that.


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