Penny Arcade Aka Susana Ventura is a performance artist, author…
Confession: A Roman Catholic App has got a wary, holy nod from the Vatican. Is this a sign the Pope’s hip to tech progress, or a desperate measure in uncertain times? Lapsed Catholics have enough to contend with says Stewart Who?
I often refer to myself as a ‘recovering’ Catholic. Like an alcoholic in a 12-step programme, you may have fought the affliction, perhaps beaten it into the background, but it’s always there. One can never be complacent, ‘cause that’s when it’ll get ya.
While there’s plenty of reason to be less than fond of the Catholic church- homophobia, misogyny, kiddie fiddling, Tony Blair, dubious wealth, Mel Gibson and a criminal aversion to condoms in world with HIV/AIDS, there are some highlights too. There’s the camp, theatrical rituals, the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Communion catwalk, rosary beads, men in ankle length dresses, pointy hats and the E-like buzz one feels after making a confession. Amen to that.
Holy tech tricks
If there’s one sign that the world has gone app-mad, it’s the news that Confession: A Roman Catholic App has descended upon us as an aid ‘for those who frequent the sacrament and those who wish to return.’ Obviously, I wish to do neither, but you have to admire the Pope and his crew for sucking up tech tricks in an effort to keep the flock on message.
Yes, it’s a shame they can’t embrace social evolution with quite the same gusto, but hey, God moves in mysterious ways, right? Well, it seems that somebody must have told the Vatican that miracles and fighting crusades is like, so last Millennium and selfies and Tweeting is where Jesus would be at, if he came back, like he promised.
In the Pope’s World Communications Address on 24 January, he caused international waves of relief by announcing it wasn’t a sin to use social networking sites. You think that Facebook’s 600 million users worldwide might have stopped with the updates if he’d threatened ‘em all with the flames of hell?
Eternal damnation didn’t halt heresy, blasphemy, apostasy, witchcraft, suicide, fornication or sodomy, so social networking was always gonna be a toughie. Maybe he just realised it was an adapt or die scenario and dressed it all up as a blessing. Perhaps God poked him, who knows? Anyway, he positively encouraged young Catholics to chat and bond online.
“I invite young people above all to make good use of their presence in the digital world,” he said.
Twitching on mephedrone
He obviously hasn’t been on Facebook. Or been tagged in a pic, taken at a rave where he’s twitching on mephedrone. Which is a shame. Nor did he warn ‘young people’ not to webcam with elderly priests, which might have been useful in the current climate.
One thing’s for sure, God botherers can mobilise an online campaign like nobody else. I once questioned Christian missionaries for hauling their bibles to Iraq. A few were kidnapped, prompting soldiers to risk their lives to save ‘the saviours’. The feature was published online in the US and within hours, the tsunami of e-mail fury caused the site’s server to crash and pray for mercy. I was forced to