Posted by Online on Dec 18th, 2013 //
Manila, Philippines – A retired Filipino priest based in Phoenix, Arizona, has invented a computer based confession tool for deaf people.
Fr. Romuald P. Zantua, DS, formerly of Daet diocese and founder of a religious community called Disciples of Hope, created the St. Damien Confession Box which consists of two laptop computers running on special
software and connected exclusively for penitent and priest to type on and send their messages to each other.
Both laptops can only function for the particular intent it was created and not for other purposes,
according to an article posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.
Zantua said priests who are not skilled in sign language will be able to communicate with deaf people using the chat function through a secured setup of two connected computers with American Sign Language (ASL) instructions and videos.
He said this particular invention will boost the practice of confession and may usher people with special needs to the Catholic Church’s gradual adoption of new technology in the modern world.
The device is composed of two computers running on special software that appears on both computer screens which contains written instructions as well as sign language video instructions and audio.
The software is hack-proof, according to Zantua, since the device doesn’t allow a third party to connect and other network connectivity are all disabled, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Zantua, who also previously served as executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Seminaries, said the computer setup was designed to instantly run a chat program where a priest and the penitent can exchange written messages on their screens.
Both penitent and priest will only have to write their messages by typing and pressing the appropriate buttons to a sequence following normal church practice, he said.
Deaf people usually have very limited option and accessibility to confession due to their disability and the limited number of priests who are skilled in sign language, Zantua added.
Penitents with hearing problems either will look for a priest who knows sign language or else write their confession on a piece of paper and hand them to a priest.
The use of the tool for the sacrament of confession is still awaiting approval from the Holy See.