Now I bought the new confession app on my iPhone because I was curious. I sat with the students and we went through it. This might be the most useless thing ever created.

To clear up some misconceptions, the Catholic Church did not sanction this app. One Bishop approved it–that’s all.

Here’s my review by going through the app step by step. To start this is supposed to be an app to help people go to confession–something you can bring into the confessional with you. Believe it or not. Now that’s not a completely bad idea. The app asks for a Name, Sex, Birthday, Vocation (e.g. married, priesthood, etc), Date of last confession and a password.

Then it takes you through a “Custom Examination of Conscience.” I played around with this creating several different usernames and found that if there’s a child they only list two things to examine: “Responsibilities to God” and “Responsibilities to Others”. I find it interesting that they think that not praying daily is a sin. And Not asking the Holy Spirit to help you when temptation comes is also a sin. (I personally ask Mary for help during those times, so I guess I have to check that one off). On the responsibilities to others they list “Not being helpful and affectionate to my family” as a sin. Um, I know lots of well behaved children that aren’t all that affectionate towards most people. Sinners! All y’all!

On the adult list they lead you through the ten commandments.
The first commandment contains sins about lying in confession and receiving communion while not being in the state of grace as well as not giving God enough time in prayer and dabbling with the occult.

The second commandment against vanity suggests that being angry with God is sinful. I dare anyone to not check that one off. Using God’s name carelessly is also on the list.

3rd Commandment on Keeping the Sabbath: All sins surround missing mass and doing needless work on Sunday. In this economy, they might want to replace Sunday with “sabbath day.” What about those of us who work for the church? Sunday is a work day for me.

4th: Honor your parents: They seem to equate honoring parents with honoring family in general. My list as a married person included neglecting duties to wife and children and not bringing peace into my home. Check on those for me. Not caring for aged relatives where also on the list.

#5: Thou shalt not kill: OK here’s the biggest flaw. They mention abortion up top (encouraging only since I’m male) mutilation, abusing drugs/alcohol, sterilization, harboring hatred, being angry (which is an emotion and not a sin), giving scandal and physically harming another. BUT THEY DON’T MENTION MURDER! I suppose that falls under physical harm but, come on!

#6: Adultery: Faithfulness to my marriage vows, using contraception, sex acts that aren’t open to conception, masturbation, chaste dress, homosexuality.

#7 Stealing: Actual stealing (yay!), wasting time at work, gambling, not paying debts properly, not sharing with the poor. (good list)

#8: Bearing false witness: Lying, not keeping confidences, gossiping, talking behind someone’s back, insincerity, critical or uncharitable of others.

#9: Coveting neighbors wife: Pornography, not controlling sexual impulses, avoiding prayer in favor of sex.

#10: Coveting neighbor’s goods: jealousy, material possessions being the sole purpose of life, not trusting that God will take care of things.

Then you can create a custom list of questions on sins for things they don’t list.

They then lead you through the steps for confession. And provide a custom Act of Contrition and give you the responses for the remainder of the ritual. They pop up a quote from a Saint: St Gregory the Great and St. Josemaria Escriva (founder of Opus Dei) came up during my two rounds.

All in all, it’s a app that I think is fair for those who haven’t been to confession in some time. But I fear that people might use it as a way to just go through the motions of a checklist without thinking about their past month or so (or longer) since their last confession. I also think it might lead many to scrupulosity. Thinking that we can never be any good. “There it is in black and white–I’m horrible.”

It also seems very heavy handed and while I’m the guy who always claims that the internet isn’t as impersonal as most think, I found this experience left me quite cold and didn’t thrust me into deep contemplation about my sinfulness but rather, just kept me checking off boxes.

Somewhere in this app there needs to be a more encouraging tone. Especially for those who haven’t been to confession in ages. If someone saw a large list of sins without a bit of encouragement and welcoming language I doubt that this app would be enough to get them to come back to the sacrament.

Lastly, how many people will abuse this? And just use the app to provide a vertical experience of the sacrament (between them and God) but not a horizontal one (reconciling with the community through the church’s representative).

So overall, I would rate this 2 out of 5 and certainly not worth paying the money for. Wait for another version that’s free and in the meantime you can use Fr Dave and I’s You Tube video and our How to Go To Confession PDF

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