Virtual Voices

Is Catholic confession app anti-gay?

Technology

Yes, according to a gay rights group called Truth Wins Out.

But first some background. In case you missed the news, the Catholic Church has sanctioned a new iPhone/iPad app called "Confession: A Roman Catholic App." It's available through iTunes for $1.99.

Despite some of the mocking headlines when it was released ("Can't Make it to Confession? There's an App for That," "Catholic Church Approves Confession by iPhone," and "New, Church-Approved iPhone Offers Confession on the Go") the application isn't a way for Catholics to confess, it's a way for Catholics to prepare for confession.

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According to Fr. Edward Beck, writing for ABCNews.com, the application "leads you through an 'Examination of Conscience' to help you figure out what your real sins are."

As it turns out, according to the Catholic News Agency, the app, developed by Little iApps, is a hit, having risen to the No. 1 spot in the "Lifestyle" section of Apple's app store. Ryan Kreager, Little iApps' co-founder and developer, told CNA that the app has generated lots of interest, and not just from Catholics. "The response that we've gotten from non-Catholics-from our Protestant brothers in Christ, as well as those outside the Christian faith-has been largely positive . . . 'The Examination of Conscience' portion gives anyone an opportunity to consider: 'How am I doing in my walk with God?'"

But back to the not-so-positive response. According to Wayne Besen, executive director of the British gay rights organization Truth Wins Out, the app is anti-gay. Why? Because it includes among its many questions for those preparing for confession this one: "Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?"

Besen calls that "promoting anti-gay spiritual abuse." He goes on to say in an article in Britain's Guardian newspaper that the app is "helping to create neurotic individuals who are ashamed of who they are. . . . Gay Catholics don't need to confess, they need to come out of the closet and challenge anti-gay dogma. The false idea that being gay is something to be ashamed of has destroyed too many lives."

While I'm sure Besen's accusations don't have Vatican or other Christian authorities quaking in their boots exactly, it's important to remember that it wasn't that long ago that the Manhattan Declaration app was pulled from the iTunes store after activists claimed it was anti-gay. Advocacy groups who claim victimhood and cry hate speech have many receptive listeners, for whom Church autonomy means little.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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