Pope bans iPhone app

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The Pope has said that Catholics cannot confess via a new confession app for the iPhone.

He said modern technology is no substitute for a real life, flesh and bones priest with a real ear to both sinners and to God.

The statement follows the launch of an iPhone application aimed at helping Catholics through confession sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the US.

Confession: A Roman Catholic app, thought to be the first to be approved by a church authority, walks Catholics through the sacrament and contains what the company behind the programme describes as a "personalised examination of conscience for each user."

But Italians appeared to be unimpressed with the new initiative, with the pope living on their doorstep and a church on every corner most people could not see the need for the new app.

"I think it is a stupid idea," said local bar tender, Sandro Folli. "I think that when you are using the mobile phone it takes away all the emotion that you can have when you are sitting in front of your confessor. I think that when you are physically in front of the confessor, if you repent, you really repent," he added.

The application 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. Some reports on its launch suggested confession would now be possible via iPhone.

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