Saturday, June 04, 2005

Reconciling the Internet

Why hasn’t the Catholic Church leveraged the power of the internet? Before you scoff, let me paint a picture. Imagine a new revised Vatican web site. Given the shortage of priests, the internet would be a blessing to some of those overworked priests and allow some of the more mundane ministerial tasks to be automated.

First, you would be required to log in to the web site. This would use SSL security and allow the Vatican to start creating mailing lists or better yet, pop up site targets for Catholic pop ups. These could remind Catholics of holy days of obligation and provide advertising revenue for things like Atkins friendly hosts for eucharist. (How about this as a slogan: “When you want the host without the most carbs…” “for those who want to take care of body AND soul”.

Logging in could be personalized with the use of cookies: “Good morning . It’s been ~Three Months~ since your last confession”.

Penance. Confession. Here is where the web would be perfect. It would remove the fear of confessing your sins and make it open to everyone twenty four by seven. It would start with a link asking you to click on the type of priest you want to “hear” your confession.

You would need to read and click the I ACCEPT the legal verbiage that is common with web sites these days. “All confessors subscribe to the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Virginity of his mother Mary. Furthermore, users of this site believe that the Roman Catholic Faith believe that this is the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic faith…blah, blah, blah”. You get the idea. Click the box if you agree.

“CLICK HERE FOR PRE VATICAN II STYLE PRIEST”
“CLICK HERE FOR POST VATICAN II STYLE PRIEST”
“CLICK HERE FOR A PRIEST WHO SUBSCRIBES TO THE PRECEPTS OF 1970’s LIBERATION THEOLOGY AND THE IDEAS OF THEOLOGIANS LIKE HANS KUN.” which when you click this link would result in a PAGE NOT FOUND message to be sure.

Web designers could develop logic that would apply based on the type of priest you choose. This more or less equates to the way penance and other teachings of the church are applied, taught and accepted now.

The internet is the perfect vehicle for the sacrament of reconciliation since it provides that anonymity that is required to allow people to confess their most hidden failings- all in secret and with the best security available. This is to say nothing of the benefit of trust issues which many people seem to have spilling their guts out to someone via an instant message chat session, but draw a complete blank when dealing face to face with a real human.

CLICK HERE FOR MORTAL SIN
CLICK HERE FOR VENIAL SIN
CLICK HERE IF YOU ARE NOT SURE
CLICK HERE IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN SIN

This last link would send you off to some of the more gut wrenching writings of St. Paul and some of the more stringent Vatican encyclicals. Soon, that thought you had today about the cute guy or girl in accounting that you flirted with will turn into abject remorse about the very fact that you even have genitalia.

Before long you are typing away at a host of sins, some that you never really knew were sins!

If you click on the link about not being sure whether it was a mortal or venial sin, you will be prompted with these sorts of questions:

WAS THE EXPOSURE OF SKIN INVOLVED?
DID THE JEWS REALLY KILL CHRIST? or even trick questions like WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU PURCHASED A CONDOM?

Answer that one even by mistake, and the logic of the web program records the sin. (Ironically, questions about pedophilia have been removed from the web site.)

All around the page there would be colorful icons of the each of the apostles. When you click on the link, a media player or real audio or quicktime audio clip would start (depending on your platform) explaining each one of the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile a banner would crawl across the bottom of the site real slow: “SEX IS ONLY FOR PROCREATION.”

Upon clicking the SUBMIT button, the entire confession is checked for vulgarity, political correctness and a final warning page. Finally your penance would pop up: PLEASE SAY 10 HAIL MARYS, 2 OUR FATHERS AND 5 GLORY BE’S. PLEASE PRINT THIS PAGE OUT FOR YOUR RECORDS the page would read.

Of course this would all be in multiple languages.

The internet would be perfect for this. Upgrade those servers at the Vatican. I can see the people lining up already. Next: Holy Communion via the internet. No lines, no waiting. Can’t wait for the future to get here!

M C Biegner

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