Communications Issues - The Catholic Church's "Confession" App
[Note: Please read through the comments at the end of this post for some great insights about this situation.]
Time and time again, I'm seeing media reports that portray something that happens in the Church with either incorrect, or easily-misconstrued wording, and it continually paints the Church in a strange—if not bad—light.
The latest example: a new app called 'Confession' on the iPhone App Store.
From BBC's article on the app:
It also allows them to examine their conscience based on personalised factors such as age, sex and marital status - but it is not intended to replace traditional confession entirely.
Instead, it encourages users to understand their actions and then visit their priest for absolution.
It would be nice if we could be a little more clear in this wording—this app in no way whatsoever replaces any part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is merely a tool/checklist to help penitents with their Examination of Conscience.
Since the article also points out that the Catholic Church has given its Imprimatur to this app, this surely means Catholics no longer need to visit the confessional to be absolved, correct? Nope. But that's the inference that will be drawn by almost every non-Catholic who knows anything about the Sacrament, and likely most Catholics as well (who goes to Reconciliation anymore, anyways? Isn't it some optional practice? </sarcasm>).
For example, from Geekologie: Catholic Church Approves Confession App
$1.99 to have your sins forgiven, not a bad deal! That's right folks, the Catholic Church has officially approved an iPhone app that guides worshipers through the process of confession.
I've been monitoring many different aspects of the Church's communications over the past few years, and, as most of the readers of this post already know, it is easy to find many more examples of positive Catholic news gone awry—mostly because it was not communicated clearly, cohesively, immediately, and accessibly, to the media and to the public.
It is my goal (and I hope it is yours as well) to help make this happen less frequently.
[Update:] It was pointed out that an anchor on CNN's Newsroom also said of the app:
PHILLIPS: I'm a woman of the cloth, OK? All right. Here's the deal. For $1.99 you can now get this app, all right? And it's for sinners. And I'm not -- and the Catholic Church is actually saying -- endorsing this. So you don't have to go to church. You don't have to go see the priest. All you do is you go on to this app, OK, you log in.
(Source). [Emphasis mine]
I long for the day when I and others can spend more time communicating the truth, and new messages of hope and love, rather than clarifying that which others have said/introduced about the faith.