About a week ago, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines was up in arms after a US-based software developer, Little iApp, released last February, Confession: A Roman Catholic App, touted as "the perfect aid for every penitent." The app received a declaration of nihil obstat ("nothing hinders" or "nothing stands in the way") and an imprimatur (mark of approval) —supposedly the first such official blessing given by the Catholic Church to an iPhone or iPad app. This application supposedly aids in confession preparation.
“No confessions can be made through mobile phones with video call capabilities and electronic mail because absolution is given by confessor to the penitent in person," according to Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news site.
And what's the take of the Vatican regarding this confession App? Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that, while such apps can be used as a guide, they can never be a substitute for real priests. He stressed that the sacrament of Penance (confession) "requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor, and absolution by the confessor who is present."
Wow! The priests are now protesting against something that they themselves have wrongly taken as their authority to do. No where in the Bible do we see God giving the authority to priests when it comes to the confessions of sins of people, much more, the authority to forgive sins. Instead, this is what the Bible tells us:
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16
This passage clearly tells us that for Christians, our High Priest is Jesus. It is to Him that we should come and not to human priests like what the Catholic doctrine tells us. And compare the kind of priest Jesus is to the Catholic priests. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." The Catholic priests are as sinners as we are. And what does one receive from Jesus, our High Priest, when we come to him to confess our sins which we don't receive from a Catholic priest? Verse 16 tells us that we receive mercy and grace from Him. 1 John 1:9 further explains that if we confess to Him our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and He cleanses us from all our unrighteousness. He is "just to forgive us our sins" because He credits our sins to the payment He did on the cross. When we come to Catholic priests for confession, we receive penance, the works of satisfaction imposed or recommended by the priest on or to the penitent which we must agree to do so that they can give absolution (forgiveness of sins). This is some sort of punishment/sacrifice a person must go through to be fully forgiven. In a way, with Jesus, He pays the price for our sins, but with the priests, we pay the price for forgiveness.
I know this confession App just cost $1.99. A cheap price for forgiveness of sins. But this is a scam just as any other grow-rich-with-the-smallest-amount-of-money schemes out there. The Bible offers something incredible. A price for forgiveness that's more than the combined wealth of this world (the blood of Jesus) given free to anyone who is willing to repent of his sins and trust Jesus for his salvation.
Now that's what you call a great offer!
Dennis Aglosolos, the Director of Living Waters - Asia, will be answering questions.