The Cable

With New App, Spaniards Can Summon Priests Like Ubers

The search for salvation is eternal. The search for a priest in Spain is a click away.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  A priest hears a confession from a man wearing a Spanish flag before the start of the beatification ceremony for Opus Dei former leader Alvaro del Portillo on September 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Thousands of Catholics from around the world celebrate the beatification ceremony of Opus Dei former leader Bishop Alvaro del Portillo in a huge open air mass.  (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27: A priest hears a confession from a man wearing a Spanish flag before the start of the beatification ceremony for Opus Dei former leader Alvaro del Portillo on September 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Thousands of Catholics from around the world celebrate the beatification ceremony of Opus Dei former leader Bishop Alvaro del Portillo in a huge open air mass. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Maybe you’re wandering around one of Spain’s leafy plazas when you get that guilty itch. Perhaps you were being covetous, or taking the Lord’s name in vain; maybe you just forgot to call your mother again. Or maybe you’ve been busy retweeting fake news (which Pope Francis himself recently condemned). You’ve strayed from the path and given into sin — and need to confess.

Luckily, Spanish priests have your back. On Thursday, a new app called Confesor Go launched, allowing remorseful Catholic users to order up a confession as easily as an Uber or a Tinder date. The app, developed by Father Ricardo Latorre, detects a user’s location and plots a route to the nearest priest who’s signed up with the service. You can confess in a church, or, for convenience’s sake, in a public place, like a plaza, park, or even right on the street.

Is looks like the Catholic Church’s latest effort to approach the smartphone generation. Pope Francis has often admonished priests not to turn off the faithful by being boring or inaccessible — and nothing is more accessible than being summoned like a cab.

While Catholicism remains a pillar of Spanish culture – from Christmas decorations in public squares to national holidays based around the Christian calendar – Spanish churches have emptied out in recent decades and active participation took a nosedive. Just 15 percent of Spaniards say they go to misa every week.

Early interest in the app shows there might be a latent hunger for easy confession in the country, though: The beta version of Confesor Go has already been download several thousand times since it was released in September.

So far, there are about 100 technology-savvy priests signed up to be confessors-in-waiting. Like a holier-than-thou Uber driver, they signal when they are available to listen to sins. Dispensing with anonymity, the app provides basic information about the priests, like name, date of birth, and year of ordainment. There’s also a handy list of the Ten Commandments, in case you need a refresher on how many sins you’ve racked up since your last confession.

The creator, Father Latorre, said he hopes to expand to Latin America next year – just in time to bolster the struggling Catholic population, which has dropped to 69 percent from 90 percent in recent years, according to Pew Research Center.

Photo credit: PABLO BLAZQUEZ DOMINGUEZ/Getty Images

Kavitha Surana is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy, where she produces breaking news and original reports with a particular focus on immigration, counterterrorism, and border security policy. Previously, Kavitha worked at New York magazine’s Bedford + Bowery blog, CNNMoney, The Associated Press in Italy, and Fareed Zakaria GPS and has freelanced from Italy and Germany for publications like Quartz, Al Jazeera America, OZY, and GlobalPost/PRI. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright trip to Germany, as well as a grant from the Heinrich Böll Foundation to report on migration and integration. She also reported from Rwanda and Senegal. Kavitha studied European history at Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in journalism and European studies from New York University. She has studied in Italy and Peru and speaks Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. @ksurana6

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola