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For some, confession is “like going to the dentist,” Newman Center Assistant Director and campus minister Jeff Klein said.

Recently, an application made by Little iApps was released for the iPhone and iPad. “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” is meant to be used as a preparatory tool for confession, a practice through which devout Catholics seek to be absolved from sins.

Developed in collaboration with clergy members Reverend Thomas Weinandy and Reverend Dan Scheidt, the app is the first of its kind to receive an imprimatur—an official declaration by a church authority that sanctions the publication of a book or document—by a Catholic bishop.

But despite authorization from Church officials, many Catholics have expressed discomfort with the idea of conflating sacred-space with cyberspace.

The Vatican publicly stated Feb. 9 that the app is not to be used as a substitute for physically visiting a priest.

“You can’t have your sins absolved by Apple,” Klein said.

“This confession app worries me because I feel it has the potential to trivialize the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the eyes of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” College junior John DiIulio wrote in an e-mail. The Confession App “may damage the sacred nature of the Sacrament” when seen next to an Angry Birds app, he added.

College senior and former president of the Newman Center Eric Banecker said this kind of concern stems from Western culture in general, which has the strong belief that public and private affairs should be kept separate.

“We see cyberspace as a ‘secular’ pursuit while we see religion as a different kind of pursuit altogether,” he wrote.

Yet in recent years, the Catholic Church has sought to embrace the digital age.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI publicly encouraged priests to use computer technology to share Christ.

Klein said he agreed with the Vatican’s motion to embrace the web and social media.

Technology itself isn’t good or evil, he said. “It can be used for either.”

What the Confession App can do, he explained, is help the practitioner in examining his or her conscience before seeing a priest.

The app can also help “jog the memory” of those who are no longer fluent in the sacrament, he said.

Klein mused that this aspect of the app may be particularly helpful to Penn students who have not been to confession since “mom and dad dragged them there.”

“Since a lot of people forget certain sins when they go into confession, this app could help bring to mind more things they need to confess,” wrote College freshman Mia Garuccio in an e-mail. “I think that the app has the potential to work well if used hand-in-hand with the actual act of confession.”

Banecker said he was happy to see the Catholic Church “embracing” technology.

“It’s funny how the app world is full of religious apps like this,” he said. “You can listen to Vatican radio now [or] have prayers for the day delivered right to your phone.”

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