Confessing Your Sins to a Phone

I’m subscribed to this blog called Weird iOS that just posts bizarre apps of all kinds. Sometimes I find apps that are perfect for weirdos like me, and I install them joyously, but more often I just marvel at the kinds of things human beings put hours of their lives into making.

But today I’m linking to one I’m not sure about. Y’all know I love spirituality apps, especially ones that help facilitate daily rituals. But I do think there’s a line such apps can cross where they become uncomfortable for me. I think Confessio crosses it.

I am Jewish, and I am definitely not educated in the particulars of Catholic practice, but our religions do share some common theology and reasoning, and I have a feeling that Confessio is not kosher, if you will. Confession seems to me to derive its legitimacy from the presence of a human priest, and swiping for absolution on a glass rectangle with an Internet connection doesn’t seem to me to do the trick. You’re not confessing to anything — except yourself. There’s definitely something to be said for that, but not as much as confessing to a person who is trained to respond. So as much as I love apps that supplement religious practices, I don’t think I’m down with apps that replace humans essential to interpersonal practices.

What do you think? Any Catholics want to weigh in?

The app has been removed from the App Store since this Weird iOS post went up, and I’m really curious why. Weird iOS quotes a disclaimer from the app’s description that says it isn’t “yet” approved by religious denominations, but I wonder if there was some hubbub that drove the creator to take the app down. I haven’t found any yet by Google-diving, but I’ll update if I do.

I did find this interesting blog post from Catholic Apptitude (sic), a site that’s “a testament to digital ministry,” which seems to condone certain kinds of digital confession, but it makes clear in red text at the top that “[A]pps of this nature are NOT meant to be a substitute for sacramental confession with a priest.” And in 2011, a Vatican spokesperson said a predecessor app called Vatican was not valid for confession.

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