Catholic Facebook. Log in for Jesus! You ain’t fooling me.

IT’S OFFICIAL. The Catholic Church is fully sick. And so is George Pell. And I’m not talking about his health. The man is like massively random in a totally wicked way. Respect!

The Pellmeister has just launched a Catholic social networking site. On the electric computer. I know, futuristic! You heard that right brothers and sisters, the Micks now have their own Facebook. It’s called Xt3, which stands for Christ in the third millennium.

It’s way cool, all the other religions are like totally raging that their church isn’t as hip. Check it out! Who are the chosen people now? Bite me. Xt3 is a social networking site for Catholic yoof. There will be no poking before marriage. Gay? Don’t ask, don’t tell. Back in the ’70s rock masses, liturgical dancing and hippies playing guitars got young bums on pews. But that was 30 years ago! It’s time to get with it! Log on, hook up and interact for Jesus!

That Catholic Church is so modern. Yes, the same church that treats gay people and women as second-class citizens, requires their priests to take a vow of celibacy and considers it a sin for a 13-year-old rape victim to have an abortion. The same church that rejects the use of condoms to fight the AIDS pandemic in Africa. That same church is so progressive and in touch with the third millennium they have a social networking site.

Xt3 has been launched to help young Catholics link up for World Youth Day and keep in contact with the yoof after the excitement of a week of prayer, trust exercises and rosary bead trading is over. World Youth Day will be held in Sydney from July 15 to July 20 and culminates in a Mass celebrated by the Pope. Yo! Big Ben is in the house. All the Bernadettes and Gerards will be able to chill out with The Main Dude. Check out the World Youth Day pilgrim apparel. Not only can you buy hoodies and baseball caps but rock on down to the online store and buy a Funky Cross Belt Buckle for $19.95 (inc GST). World Youth Day. The Time Of Your Eternal Life.

I had a cruise around the website and thought that being an atheist youth must really suck sometimes. Someone needs to organise them a jamboree. As far as weddings and funerals are concerned churches are still doing a pretty good trade. And there are grassroots Christian groups that are doing phenomenal work with the poor, the broken, the sick and the lost. Not in a “you read the Bible and we’ll give you something to eat” way, but in a non-judgemental compassionate way. With open arms, closed eyes and a no-questions-asked spirit. There’s plenty of work being done in the community that turns a blind eye to official church bureaucracy. Mavericks who are thinking “what would Jesus do?” and doing it.

On a weekly basis traditional church attendances are dwindling rapidly. Mega churches such as Hillsong, on the other hand, are going off like a frog in a sock. Prosperity teachings, rock and roll and use of the word “awesome” certainly have people taking Christ as their personal saviour and buying a DVD and a caramel mochaccino on the way out. Have you heard about Pillsong? Apparently ravers drop a couple of ecstasy pills and head down to Hillsong for some hugging, loving and rapture. How could you ever come down from that?

Once upon a time the word of the Lord and the fear of eternal damnation was enough to fill the pews. It’s 2008 and time for churches to rethink their approach. A church round the corner has installed a colourful playground to get the young families in. What are the traditional churches going to do to stay alive? Most churches are medieval, cold and uncomfortable. Wooden pews, organ grinders and, if there is carpet, it reeks of suffering. Will churches soon start installing gold-class seating, free wireless hot spots, PlayStations for the kiddies and a Gloria Jean’s coffee shop to save souls?

You’ve got to admire the Catholic Church’s attitude. They stick to their guns. There will be no backdown on our anachronistic dogma that is at our core, but we will give you an illusion of progress. Back in April the Vatican abolished limbo, which means (apparently) unbaptised babies now have a place in heaven. I don’t know whether that includes Muslim babies, Hindu babies and aborted babies. And they’ve updated their mortal sins to include drug dealing, environmental vandalism and “manipulative” genetic science.

If traditional churches want to stay relevant it’s time for them to stop selling the sizzle and start selling steak. Which may be hard for some to swallow.


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