Rumor has reached fever pitch in the Vatican that the giant social networking group is about to make a bid for the Catholic Church in the power vacuum left by Pope Benedict’s resignation.
Media analyst Robert Green says it would be unrealistic to think a giant like Facebook would not have designs on the Church. “They’re both massive organizations, a billion plus members each, in both cases the main social focus for many of their members”, he says. “The chance for Facebook to double its membership at one swoop must be tempting. If you look more closely, you’ll see some curious parallels between the two – both started by Jewish guys with a knack for starting mass movements, phenomenal global reach, etc. This is one to watch.”
Even Vatican insiders concede that the two organizations are in competition. However, one cardinal dismissed any idea of equality between them. “Make no mistake, the Church has a pedigree that this upstart American company can’t match – a 2000-year history, huge cathedrals, you name it. How many saints and martyrs does Facebook have?”
So far, Facebook has only made some cautious non-committal comments on the rumors. One thing they are keen to emphasize, however, is that such a takeover wouldn’t change the Church. “There’s no question of Mark Zuckerberg becoming Pope or anything like that”, said one staff member, who did not wish to be named. “They can go on choosing a pontiff in the usual way – conclave of cardinals, white smoke, etc. Just business as usual.”
Meanwhile, there has been mixed reaction among Facebook users to the possible amalgamation. “I think there’s a lot of young people out there who’d be cool with getting into religion without having to leave their bedroom,” said David Joyce, 21, “and that’s where social networking sites could help.” However, Catholic member Rebecca Grey, 16, firmly believes in the separation of church and Facebook: “I mean, what good is it blocking some guy on Facebook and then you go into church on Sunday and there he is grinning at you from the next pew?”