Stig Jarllsberg reporting from Melbourne
The Australian Catholic Church is particularly worried about the decline in “butts on pews”, a statistic that has been measured in more prosaic ways by NCLS Research and other Australian Christian bodies. The ACC has thrown off its traditional conservatism and taken some radical steps to encourage attendance, targeting younger churchgoers in particular. In a bold move many priests are now providing a “Red Velvet Communion” where worshippers receive FroYo in place of bread, and Pepsi Wild Cherry instead of Communion wine. This clash of epochs is not easy for the more established clergy; on condition of anonymity Father Angus McChatteris of Melbourne’s Holy Cross Yumz Church let TTT know that:
“It’s difficult; blessing vats of Butter Pecan and Pepsi Cola just doesn’t feel right. It’s difficult enough to believe in transubstantiation without having to accept the body of Christ as Cookies n’ Cream”.
This view was echoed by others in the ecclesiastical community. Father Greg O’Cleris of Irish Mint NF Notre Dame has taken a tough stance on this liberalization with his masters in the Vatican:
“I know the Pepsi sponsorship has been a financial boon but I must say that the host being delivered via a sprinkle station is out of place even in the 21st century”
Others are more enthusiastic. Younger people love the new “frozen dessert truck” chimes that ring out in place of the “boring” traditional church bells. As a consequence Australian mosques are seeing a marked downturn in attendance, and, reflecting the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment, we were told that:
“You come here [the Church] and get a Raspberry Pistachio with Brownie Bites; you go down the road to Mohammed’s place and the best you can hope for is clean feet….”
Larger concerns have been voiced by child protection agencies who are suspicious of Catholic priests tempting children into churches with ice cream and soda. Back at home, the Swedish Catholic Assembly stated that although they were initially hostile to the concept they have started to prototype this idea in a limited number of churches that will be serving dried herring and barnacle-rinse in place of the more orthodox body and blood of the savior. That’s a tasty enough treat to fill all the pews in Sweden!