The photo messaging app, Snapchat, is used for many reasons, from innocent conversations to the exchanging of sexy photos. Snapchat is unique in that, once opened, the messages only last a short time, and then disappear. This creates a false sense of security for Snapchat users, leading to the sharing of information that otherwise may never have been made public.
One priest, whose identity remains a mystery, has decided to use Snapchat as a digital confessional. Members of the Catholic church believe in confessing their sins to a priest, who then absolves them of sin and assigns a penance, typically a variety of prayer such as the Hail Mary or Our Father. Inside the confessional booth, the church member is allowed to decide if they want to speak with the priest face-to-face, or remain anonymous behind a barrier.
It is easy to see why a man of the cloth could see potential in an app, such as Snapchat, for this purpose. Snapchat provides a certain level of anonymity, along with the promise of the message disappearing fairly quickly. If his intent is to allow more people the opportunity to confess their sins, then the Snapchat usage can be seen as an admirable endeavor.
In a report by Fox News Radio, an ordained priest from the San Antonio area will be accepting confessions through Snapchat from March 2 to March 16 via the handle @priestDavid. Archdiocese of San Antonio Deacon Pat Rodgers does not agree with using Snapchat for this purpose. The church is not involved in the Snapchat confessions, so in essence the Father has gone rogue. Deacon Rodgers states that the Snapchat promotion goes against the teachings of the church, and all confessions must be done face-to-face.
News 4 San Antonio goes into a bit more detail. The man apparently began the Snapchat confessional as a way to help a college student with a project, and because he wanted to reach younger people.
Reverend Tony Vilano, from San Fernando Cathedral, is staunchly against the Snapchat experiment, and does not believe the person behind the Snapchat confessions is a true Catholic priest.
“He’s not a Catholic priest. The church teaches when you go to confession, you should go to a priest either behind a divider or face-to-face. Doing it Snapchat, I mean, you can do Snapchat or through the internet and list everything you’ve done and there’s no humility in there. There’s no ownership of the sins you’ve committed.”
Snapchat is certainly not the first venue someone has used to misrepresent themselves online, of course. Do you think @priestDavid is doing a wonderful service for people who need it, or using Snapchat to intentionally promote the Catholic church in the wrong way?
[Image via Otago Daily Times]