Watch Out Facebook, Here Comes Something Catholic

Social Networking Site Launched for Sydney Youth Day

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SYDNEY, Australia, JUNE 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Sydney launched the first-ever online social networking site developed especially for a World Youth Day, and he's looking for friends.

Based on other popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, the Sydney World Youth Day organizers developed Xt3.com, which stands for Christ in the Third Millennium.

Cardinal George Pell, along with Bishop Anthony Fisher, coordinator of the Sydney World Youth Day, launched the site today at the Telstra Experience Centre with 100 young people. He invited them all to "come online and become one of my friends."

Xt3.com is the exclusive online social network for World Youth Day Sydney 2008, and will connect pilgrims with each other before, during and after the event.

While showing those present his profile on Xte.com, Cardinal Pell admitted he's new to the Internet: "Whatever about my ignorance on this area, it's more than balanced by my recognition of its importance, and my determination that representatives of the Church be actively presented in this area."

"I'm pleased too that I have been persuaded to come online," he added.

Bishop Fisher said at the launch: "We are very excited to launch Xt3.com and to be helping young people and their friends plan their trip and share their faith and excitement for World Youth Day.

"The name Xt3 was inspired by Pope John Paul II and stands for Christ in the Third Millennium. Pope John Paul II spoke of young people's special task to bring the message of Christ to the world in the third Millennium.

"It is hoped that Xt3 users will continue to connect after World Youth Day in July, to build upon friendships made and continue dialogue about what it means to be a young person of faith."

Legacy

Xt3.com is the brainchild of two English brothers, John and Robert Toone, along with Chris Purslow, who will continue to promote the site with the Archdiocese of Sydney after World Youth Day.

"This site has been launched in time for the Sydney event," said Robert Toone, "but it is a legacy piece for the Catholic Church in Australia and the world."

"It is an online platform to enable pilgrims to connect with millions, share the experience and build a better world," he said.

In addition to normal social networking features, such as the ability to join groups, create a profile and post pictures, the site also gives its members the opportunity to submit a question to "Ask a Priest" and ask for prayer intentions.

More than 2,000 users joined the test site since February 2008 to provide testing, feedback, and to enhance the site in time for its worldwide launch.

"This will be the most interactive World Youth Day event to date," said Michael Rocca, group managing director for Telstra Networks and Services.

Pointing to other interactive features such as Papal SMS's and Digital Prayer Walls, he said pilgrims will be "involved before, during and after the event."

A group of trained administrators will oversee Xt3 on a 24-hour basis to ensure that images, videos, comments and discussions are appropriate.