The Catholic Church has approved an iPhone app that helps guide Catholics through confession and tries to entice lapsed followers back into the fold.

The app – called Confession – went on sale last week through iTunes for £1.19 ($1.99).

Now senior church officials in America have given it their seal of approval, in what is thought to be a first.

The app walks people through confession step by step, based on text developed in collaboration with Catholic pastor Dan Scheidt and U.S. Catholic official Thomas G. Weinandy.

It reminds users when their last confessions were and keeps track of sins they have previously confessed.

It also advertises features such as password protection to allow multiple users, a “custom examination of conscience” based on age, sex and marital status, the ability to add sins that aren’t listed and a choice of seven different acts of contrition — prayers that express sorrow for sins.

The release of the app comes after Pope Benedict XVI delivered a message on social media and online communications today, telling Catholic Internet users to be respectful of others online and to not focus too much on their online popularity. The message was part of the church’s annual World Day of Social Communications.

Last year, Benedict had urged church leaders to embrace digital tools in order to communicate their message to laypeople.