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French Bishops Criticize 'Confession' Hotline

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"For advice on confessing, press one. To confess, press two. To listen to some confessions, press three," says a male voice welcoming the caller to "Le Fil du Seigneur", or "The Line of the Lord" service, for a price of 0.34 euros (46 cents) a minute.

"In case of serious or mortal sins -- that is, sins that have cut you off from Christ our Lord, it is indispensable to confide in a priest," continues the service, set up by a group of Catholics working for AABAS, a small Paris company that provides telephone messaging services.

The service hopes to encourage confession from Catholics too busy to get to church, but French bishops have hit out about the idea.

"For the Catholic faithful, confession has a sacramental meaning and requires the real presence of a priest," read a statement from The Conference of French Bishops, who denied the Catholic Church had sanctioned the phone line.

The phone line's creator, known as Camille, is unrepentant. "The idea is to confess sins which are not capital sins, but minor sins, directly to God," she said, adding the line had received 300 calls in its first week.

Sinners at Vanity Fair's blog VF Daily rang the number and recorded a nice excerpt of the call. They note that the confession took around 10 minutes, and cost around $4.60 - a bargain, considering.

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