Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There's No App for That

I was at the YMCA this morning when an acquaintance came into the locker room and announced that the Catholic Church had approved an i-phone app for confession. I stated my incredulity, but he insisted that the Vatican had approved it because he had just heard about it on the radio.

This reminded me of a case several years ago when a European company set up a telephone hotline to hear confessions by phone. That one did not meet with Church approval. I told my acquaintance that I would have to look it up, and that it was probably not confession, but an examination of conscience.


First, the app in question was approved not by the Vatican, but by a bishop in Indiana. Second, the app does not replace confession, but can be used by a penitent to assist in examining his conscience before entering the confessional.

Fox News reports:

The app is not designed to replace going to confession but to help Catholics through the act, which generally involves admitting sins to a priest in a confessional booth. Catholics still must go to a priest for absolution.

Little iApps said Bishop Kevin Rhoades, of the Diocese of Fort Wayne in Indiana, officially authorized the app for Catholics to use.

I can’t help but wonder how many Catholics (and non-Catholics) have been fooled into thinking that either (1) they can purchase an application for their mobile device that will absolve them of their sins; or (2) that “the Church” would approve the sale of such an application.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The President's Abortion Statement

It seemed like an amazing statement at the time, and I was sure that somebody else - a professional writer far more capable than I of forming thoughts into coherent sentences - would jump all over it. However, in the two weeks following the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court made killing one's unborn child a Constitutional right, I haven't seen it noted by any of the pundits and prognosticators that I read regularly.

President Obama chose to frame his statement this year around what would appear to be a misunderstanding of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. The Acton Institute defines it this way: "This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be." President Obama, in his statement, said, "Government should not intrude on private family matters."

This is absurd nonsense! The government intervenes in cases of domestic violence on a routine basis, and quite justly so. It is hard to imagine a surgical abortion as anything other than an act of violence. What makes state intervention imperative when the victim is a spouse or a child, but forbidden when the child is unborn? Indeed, if a pregnant woman is assaulted and the baby in the womb dies, the person responsible will be charged with a crime for the death in addition to the assault.

When the British Empire ruled India, so a commonly cited anecdote goes, an upper-class Indian man died, and his body was to be burned. It was customary, the local British official was told, to burn the surviving widow with the dead body. The official replied that Britain also had a custom of hanging any man who burned a woman alive. "You carry out your custom, and we shall carry out ours," he said.

The principle upon which President Obama claims to base his acceptance of abortion, if logically extended, would likewise require acceptance of things like honor killings, infanticide, and euthanasia - so long as it is kept within the family. It is a misunderstanding of subsidiarity and a concept foreign to the Common Law principles upon which our system of jurisprudence is based.

Either he hasn't thought through the implication his own stated principles or, worse yet, he has.