Young people are becoming less religious, and the Church is both. It is for the economic development of the cities, because we are more connected or it is because we tend to become more religious with age (according to studies), the case is that younger people tend not to practice religion. It is for this reason that the Vatican has carried out different actions to reach out to those who are moving away, because people between 18 and 25 years do not go to mass, but it does play Minecraft.
Proof of this is the tweet that Father Robert R. Ballecer, SJ, a jesuit, twitterers with more than 23,000 followers and fan of video games, published at the beginning of September 2019. In it he told his followers that he wanted to open a few servers in the Vatican “for gamers that want a few less toxic and more community.” 1,136 persons participated in the survey and the victory for Minecraft was overwhelming: 64%. Now the server has been activated, so you just have to configure the client to point to “minecraft.digitaljesuit.com“, without the quotation marks.
Ok… I want to spin up a few servers in the Vatican for gamers who want a little less “toxic” and a bit more community.
What should be my first server?
— Fr. Robert R. Ballecer, SJ (@padresj) August 31, 2019
Religion jumps from the churches to the screens
In an interview, as Rome Reports, the jesuit account on your server for Minecraft “you can invite people who want to be creative, who want to be toxic,” and which aims to create “an environment in which people can express themselves and build a relationship. And what of the relationship is the most important part. Ultimately, that is what I want to do with the server”. For him it is not a question of technology or gaming, but that create relationships in the game that, later, can be brought to the real world.
Father Robert R. Ballecer, SJ is an example of how the religion is trying to reach the younger audience. Your Twitter profile it is not the one that we could imagine a religious person or a priest, but that could well be a tech blogger. Maybe it will help to be a trained engineer in Silicon Valley. In his profile speaks of ‘The Mandalorian‘, of accessories for smartphone and laptopputs pictures of food, speaking of networking topics… But it is only an example.
If we talk about games, just do a simple search in Google to find a community on Steam with 12.273 members-called “Christian Gaming Community”. These are defined as “players of all ages and nations that are held together by our love and worship of jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,” and its golden rule is “Do unto others all that you want to do to you” (Matthew 7:12, for those who wish to know the origin of the expression). It is not an official community of the Vatican, but a test of how religion unites his faithful people in digital environments.
If we attract users to the Church, we cannot but speak of what are known as Godspots, an initiative of the German protestant Church that was to put free WiFi hotspots. There are 3,000 churches, community centers and religious institutions in the region, and the idea was to bring the Godsposts to all of them. The WiFi points are not abundant in the area (in 2016, one for every 10,000 inhabitants), although not abound too much the believers, who represent only 8% of the population.
Another good example of bring the religious world to the young was ‘Follow MO GO!’a game of augmented reality style ‘Pokémon GO’ created by the religious foundation Ramón Panè with the occasion of the JMJ2019 of Panama (which was a trending topic on Twitter, by the way). It was a game in which we had to create our own “Evangelization team” with different biblical characters and collect water, bread and pence. Still is available on Google Play and App Store.
Nor can we forget the “Click To Pray eRosary“a rosary intelligent in the form of bracelet that connects to your mobile and an app to record our life-style and offer different rosaries to pray: standard, contemplative and thematic. It also incorporates an audio guide to understand the Gospel. Its price is 99 euros and is available on Amazon. Special mention deserve the churches of England, that accept donations with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
The Church has also pronounced on the role of religious beliefs in technological advances
These are just a few examples of actions that the Church or its followers have been carried out to approach the younger audience, but the institution has not hesitated in opinion on other matters related to technology and the future. In fact, Pope Francis has already pronounced with regard to artificial intelligence, saying that, “the artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technological innovations should be employed in ways that contribute to the service of humanity and to the protection of our common home, instead of the opposite, as unfortunately, some evaluations provide for”.
On the line is the Reverend Christopher J. Benekthat is not only dedicated to religious practices but talk about technology and artificial intelligence in his blog post. According to him, “I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,” and that “if AI is autonomous, then we should encourage them to participate in the redeeming purposes of Christ in the world”.
Social networks, the bastion of the Vatican
Even so, the spearhead of the Vatican are the profiles of Pope Francis on social networks, which have been translated into many languages. Only the Spanish account accumulated 17.3 million of followers, following so close to the largest account, @Pontifexwith 18.1 million followers. It is also in Arabic, Polish, Italian… all of them are published exactly the same messages (between two and three daily tweets), only translated into the languages of each country. Also has an account on Instagram with 6.3 million followers, where you upload stories and photos of their visits. In Facebook, however, nor has the official website.
The Church exists to keep alive in the hearts of men the reminder that God loves us. Exists to to say to each one, even the most distant: “God has not forgotten you, we care for you”.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex_es) November 30, 2019
The accounts of the Pope link to the website Vatican News, where the Vatican has published the news related to the institution and the christian religion, in addition to an informative. This, following the current trend in the consumption of multimedia content, can be heard in podcast format. There are several programs, such as “the voice of The Pope” (which sets out the public speeches of Pope Francis) or “The Young Vatican”, where they talk about “how to get that young catholics are more excited about their faith.”