Can I go to confession to my iPhone?
The answer is no.
You might suspect differently from what you may have heard on the news, that there's a new app that can be purchased for the iPhone, called "Confession: A Roman Catholic App." This app guides its user through the sacrament, and has even received an IMPRIMATUR, that is, blessed approval from the Vatican.
It does not, however, mean that we can just confess to our iPhone, and that's as good as going to see a priest to get absolved of our sins.
Is all about what the app really is - its just a guide, to help someone who doesn't know what to do in confession, step by step, through the sacrament. It also provides an examination of conscience - that's a list of sins that we may have committed so we can know what we're going to confess.
It does NOT have a function where you enter in your sins and get a "YOUR FORGIVEN" message in return.
In fact we can't even go to confession by e-mail or even by phone, because of the possibility that the seal of confession might be compromised - that is, we can't guarantee that it will be a secret, because we don't have control over airways or digital networks.
Confession always has to be in person. How come? Well, because there's something about facing a person, who is there on behalf of Christ, to go into our souls with - look at the ugliness that might be inside ourselves, and have them see it with us, and assure us that we can be forgiven. That's what its all about.
Afterall, our sins are against the community, and have negative consequences FOR the community, so its only fitting that we go to a priest, who on behalf of the community, reconciles us.
But iPhone apps like this are okay - that is, IF they help us to grow TOWARDS community, rather than away from it.
That's the problem with the digital world - it claims to connect us to more people, while in fact does the opposite. I have almost 1000 friends - on facebook - most of whom I do not even know by name. Nothing wrong with being connected, so long as I don't replace REAL friendships with facebook friendships, because they aren't the same thing.
My friend, Mr. Ray also observed recently, that these prayer apps shouldn't make our spiritual lives too easy. For example, I can pray my entire morning and evening prayer using my iPhone - nothing wrong with that, I do it all the time. However, if the convenience of doing so tempts me to say, pray during commercials, or while I'm driving, then I'm missing something - part of the point of prayer is to stop everything else, and give that time only to God.
So anyway, like everything, technology has its good side and its bad side. We can applaud the Vatican for being on top of technological progress here, as I think it should be. Lets just be careful with it.