US Catholic Church Officially Approves Confession iPhone App

An iPhone app called Confession has received the approval of official Roman Catholic church officials in America, helping users through the confession process although they will have to be physically in the confessional in order to participate in the rite of penance.

The $1.99 app, which is available on iTunes, has been designed by a US-based company called Little I Apps and is rated as having mature and suggestive themes by the online store.

One of the developers, Patrick Leinen, wrote that "Our desire is to invite Catholics to engage in their faith through digital technology" before adding that "our goal with this project is to offer a digital application that is truly ‘new media at the service of the Word."

It is thought to be the first time that any Catholic body approves, via an imprimatur, a mobile application as an aid to a Church sacrament and it has apparently helped one person return to the sacrament after 20 years.

As expected, the app - which is also compatible with the iPad - comes with the ability to personalise the examination of conscience of each user, based on factors such as age, sex and marital status, with password protected profiles as well as a step-by-step guide to the sacrament. Users will also be able to choose from seven acts of contrition as well as add sins not listed in the standard examination of conscience.

A flood of Catholic-friendly applications and services is expected to appear in 2011 as Pope Benedict, the head of the Catholic church, said in its general prayer intention at the beginning of the year that "young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society.”

The developers have not confirmed whether they will be launching other Roman Catholic apps or whether they intend to roll out the app for other mobile platforms as well.