Vatican disapproves of confessional app

Posted by Mark Raby

It was approved of by local pastors and even a bishop, but the iPhone app that lets users "confess" while they're away from church is not earning any smiles at the top of the chain of command.

The Vatican has officially come forth to ban the app, saying despite what local Catholic leaders may have said, "under no circumstance is it possible to 'confess by iPhone.'"

That was the word from Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

"It is essential to understand that the rites of penance require a personal dialogue between penitents and their confessor... It cannot be replaced by a computer application," he said during a news conference.

The app, Confession: A Roman Catholic App, made headlines when it was released this week for about $2. Developed out of South Bend, Indiana, it was well received by church officials in the area and was even marketed as an app sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

It was kind of hard to believe that going to a church confessional could actually be replaced by what is essentially writing into a digital diary. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Vatican would step in and condemn those who said it was a valid replacement.

The lead developer of the app, Patrick Leinen, still insists there is value in it. For example, users can search for various sins and read scripture on it to figure out how to overcome such temptations.

The app remains on the iTunes App Store for $1.99.