Carrying on the mission of his predecessor, Pope Benedict announced in June 2010 a pontifical council for the “the new evangelization”, the principle task of which was to:
[promote] a renewed evangelization in the countries where the first proclamation of faith has already resounded and where there are churches of ancient foundation present, but which are living through a progressive secularization of society and a kind of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.
Fr. Mirilli of Rome seems to have interpreted the Holy Father’s directive in a rather novel manner:A section of the crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso near St. Peter’s Square has boasted tombs of cardinals for centuries, has been turned into a nightclub by Rome’s Catholic Church:
The Catholic church in Rome is trying to win back young people with a nightclub in the crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso, complete with a beer and wine bar.
Rev. Maurizio Mirilli, head of youth ministry in Rome’s Catholic Church, has converted a section of the crypt into a nightclub with a live-music stage and a bar stocked with beer, Prosecco and other wine. Father Mirilli has christened the new watering hole GP2, short for “Giovanni Paolo II,” as the late Polish pope was known in Italian.
For Rome’s young and restless, GP2 is the prime destination for mingling, dancing or having “a drink with a bishop,” Father Mirilli said Saturday night. He he leaned against the club’s mirrored bar and nursed a glass of pineapple juice as a phalanx of young men with gelled hair bobbed their heads to the Black Eyed Peas. Scrawled across the bar was a biblical passage from the Gospel of St. John, quoting Jesus Christ: “Give me a drink.” (Actually, he was referring to water).
In fairness, “clients are expected to observe a two-drink maximum, and GP2 doesn’t serve hard spirits, like vodka and gin.” Fr. Mirilli intends to “open a small counseling center adjacent to the bar,” offers confession in an underground chapel located in the back of the club, and appears sincerely motivated to offer a spiritually-infused alternative to the “club scene.” (According to a recent poll, only 15% of Italian Catholics between the ages of 18 and 29 consider themselves “practicing Catholics,” compared with 18% in 2004).
At the same time, I question the transformation of an explicitly religious venue in this manner, and the emphasis on music, socializing and ‘clubbing’ might promote an atmosphere counter to its distinctly evangelical objective (compare/contrast with other bar-based ministries such as “theology on tap”).
Source: “Tales From the Crypt: To Attract New Blood, Church Joins Club Scene “ | Slideshow | Video. Wall Street Journal November 5, 2010.
(Via Rorate Caeli – the readers of whom are understandably, vehemently, opposed).