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Sunday, February 13, 2011

New iPhone App Will Not Replace Confession; Will Not Replace Priests

Say what you will about the Catholic Church--unlike many American institutions, it has protected its key employees—i.e, the priests, from the scythe of downsizing via outsourcing and replacement by new technologies. Heaven knows the American Catholic Church has bills to pay. To this end, it has embarked on an unprecedented fire sale of church property and parish consolidations. Priests, of course, have been shunted about, but it’s mostly the property that’s been downsized.

What a comfort, then, to learn that the Vatican disapproves of a new application that allows for fingertip preparation via iPhone for confession. Cooked up by the Indiana company Little iApps, the program, Confession: A Roman Catholic App, recently debuted after securing approval from Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. But the Vatican doth protest:

I must stress. . . to avoid all ambiguity, under no circumstance is it possible to confess by iPhone, emphasized Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi last week.
The Vatican’s principal motive, of course, is not pecuniary but spiritual. “It is," continues Lombardi, "to require a personal dialogue between penitents and their confessor, [which] cannot be replaced by a computer application.”

Rightsizing: A Confession. But if a full-confession app did catch on and became confession-as-usual, it would no doubt cut into a priest’s workload. When Wig & Pen’s own priestly friend Guido headed up a medium size parish, he devoted three to five hours each week (more during the Lenten season) to the confessional. If you multiply 4 hours per week by the nation’s 19,000 Catholic parishes in 2006 (the number of parishes has undoubtedly declined after the recent consolidations), you get 77,000 hours. That would be quite a bone for Corporate America’s spread sheet “right-sizers,” who might crunch even a fraction of hours saved into fewer priestly positions.

Fortunately, the church has conservative values of a different stripe. How sinful it would be, for example, if an app were to obliterate the practices that inspired Jerry Seinfeld’s brush with the confessional in the clip below.


Peter C. said...

Very funny but there is actually a severe shortage of U.S. born priests, to the extent that clergy is being imported from developing world countries in Africa and Latin America India has also become an exporter of catholic priests, often to Africa, and not to serve the resident Indian population but for parishes anywhere and everywhere.

Anonymous said...

If the Catholic Church would move into the 21st century and allow for priests to marry, allow women to have a more significant role in the church and allow women to be priests....perhaps there would be more people choosing the vocation....and fewer catholics "falling away"