Anonymous ‘veteran priest’ offers confession by Snapchat; Catholic Church not buying it

Absolution by app?

The story of a Snapchat user claiming to be a veteran Catholic priest who is offering to hear confessions over social media is getting national news attention– but the idea has plenty of doubters.

Starting with the Catholic Church.

According to WOAI Channel 4 in San Antonio, a man who wanted to be known only as @PriestDavid claimed he’s been a Catholic priest for 23 years and stumbled on the idea of “hearing” confessions via Snapchat while discussing a project with a college student.

He said making the sacrament available by iPhone might be a way for the church to a younger generation.

But a priest interviewed by the station, and the Archdiocese of San Antonio, condemned the idea.

“He’s not a Catholic priest,” said the Rev. Tony Vilano, of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio. “The church teaches when you go to confession, you should go to a priest either behind a divider or face to face.”

Vilano’s protests didn’t stop news of @PriestDavid’s idea from spreading, with the story getting picked up by newspapers and websites across the country and even internationally. “Fox and Friends” featured a segment on it Wednesday morning.  

But Deacon Pat Rodgers of the Archdiocese San Antonio agreed with Vilano, stating that Catholic confessions must be done face to face.

In short, @PriestDavid is either a rogue priest or a complete fraud.

But he will be hearing “confessions” until March 16, if anyone is crazy enough to place their deepest secrets – and possibly their immortal soul – in the hands of a total stranger.

For nothing.

“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,” Vilano told Channel 4.

“There’s no ownership of the sins you’ve committed.”

If @PriestDavid knows anything about that, it’s a pretty good bet he doesn’t care.

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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