‘Catholic Facebook’ networking site launched for World Youth Day

Sydney, Australia, Jun 14, 2008 / 04:23 pm (CNA) .- On Thursday Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, launched the Catholic social networking site, Xt3.com, to help connect young people ahead of next month’s World Youth Day. Cardinal Pell said the site, which is similar to popular social sites like Facebook and MySpace, would ensure that young Catholics who cannot travel to Sydney for the event would be able to experience it in real time.

"Whatever my ignorance of this area, it's more than balanced by my recognition of its importance and my determination that the Church and representatives would be active in this area," the cardinal said, according to News.com.au.

Bishop Anthony Fisher, coordinator of World Youth Day, said technology was expected to play an important role in the five-day event. At least 225,000 pilgrims will be able to receive a daily text message from Pope Benedict XVI.

He said Xt3.com would help both Catholics and non-Catholics learn about the faith.

"All sorts of young people will come in and out of this site…they won't necessarily be Catholics or high-octane Catholics," he said. "It may well be a way for communication with all sorts of people."

Bishop Fisher also said there would not be strict censorship on the site.

“We want kids to feel free to talk freely,” he said. “If they want to debate different issues, they'll be able to do that. There wouldn't be any point in stopping that from happening because if we did, they wouldn't keep visiting the site in the future.”

About 100 volunteers from around the world will monitor the site to ensure its operation 24 hours a day.

Jessica Langrell, an 18-year-old events management student, already has a profile on Xt3.com and took part in the site’s trial run.

"It's an easy way for people to get more involved or even just to find out more about it," she said.

"Everyone is so into technology these days - I've got a lot of friends on Facebook and this way, you can find people who've already got that sort of Catholic interest."

Cardinal Pell himself has a profile on the site, a page personally designed by a World Youth Day employee.

"I'm pleased I have been persuaded to come online. Of course, I invite you all to come online and become one of my friends," the cardinal said.