The Italian journal Civiltá Cattolica, which is published by the Jesuits, has proposed that the Internet be considered “mission territory,” with evangelization efforts aimed at the “second lives” of people in the online world.
Those familiar with the Internet know that the last few years have seen the introduction of new virtual worlds online. Of particular note is the game Second Life, which allows users to assume a persona and engage in everyday activities from shopping to sleeping.
Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialise, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade property and provide services for one another - all paid for using the world's virtual currency (which costs actual money).
The creators of the Second Life world, Linden Research Inc., say about 7 million users have been registered, but it is unclear how many people regularly participate through their avatars.
In their article on Second Life and the digital world, Civiltá Cattolica assesses the risks and opportunities of the worldwide phenomenon of Second Life and underscores that religious elements should be present there as well.
“Any initiative capable of encouraging these ‘environments’ in a positive way should be considered opportune” for the virtual lives that people create on the Internet. “The digital world is, in its own way, mission territory,” the article states.
Recently, Second Life’s creators took the step of enriching its places of prayer, mosques, churches, cathedrals and convents with avatars keen to meditate and find God.