After redefining social media marketing for businesses, iPhone applications have moved into a new realm: religion. Mobile application software is now standing in as the role of priest, in A Roman Catholic App, now available for $1.99 on the iPhone and iPad.
According to NPR, an Internet programmer and practicing Catholic named Patrick Leinen decided to design the app after a speech that Pope Benedict XVI gave last year, in which he called on the Catholic Church to bring the Gospel to people through new technologies.
According to the NPR article, Leinen believes that many people are intimidated by confession, so he wanted to design an app that would walk you in baby steps through an examination of conscience.
The Catholic News Service advises that the app is not an excuse for Catholics to skip going to confession in person. An article in God Discussion quotes Catholic News Services on the subject.
“It’s essential to understand that the sacrament of penance requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor, and absolution by the confessor who is present,” the article says.
There is also another free iphone app known as Penance that allows users to confess their sins to other users, and to give absolution. By confessing or absolving, users are able to accrue horns or halos. According to an article in National Catholic Register, the more notable confessors are ranked with titles such as Saints, Bishops, Cardinals and Holy Father/Mother of the Church.
Tim Drake of National Catholic Register sees the Penance app as blasphemous.
“By creating a virtual hierarchy and a virtual sacrament, they’ve made a mockery of the real one- a real Sacrament with the power to transmit Christ’s grace and forgiveness through the Church’s priests,” Drake said.
Heidi Campbell is a communications professor at Texas A&M who studies how religious communities use technology. In an article on WCNC.com, Campbell discussed the topic of technology and religion.
“As technology becomes a bigger part of daily life, the faithful are finding ways to incorporate it into their religious lives.”
By incorporating religion into iPhone apps and daily life, developers are profiting financially. If worshippers are paying $1.99 for the app, someone is making a profit.
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