Call to prayer for mobile Catholics

London, England - THE Roman Catholic Church is offering mobile phone users the chance to "pray, protest and ponder" by text message.

Catholics in Scotland are being invited to sign up for the free service, which will send them instant alerts about stories concerning the Scottish Catholic Church.

Mobile phone users will be asked to pray for leaders and people in distress. Examples could include subscribers being given the first name of a pregnant woman who is in two minds about whether to keep a baby or have an abortion, and asked to pray on her behalf.

According to the Church’s website, mobile users will also receive alerts to let them know when there are programmes on radio and television that they might want to watch or comment on, including radio phone-ins on moral issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Catholics will be texted with the name of the programme and the subject under discussion, and the relevant phone number so that they can call and voice a Catholic opinion.

According to Scotland on Sunday, the service is a first and will allow the nation’s 700,000 Catholics to "pray, protest and ponder" via their mobile phones. The service will be promoted next month, when 100,000 flyers are distributed around parishes.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "We would use it to tell people that, for example, the Gary Robertson show on Radio Scotland is discussing euthanasia or whatever, and here is the number to call."

He denied that such a move would be skewing the balance of opinion on such programmes. He said: "We’re giving people the information to call in if they want to, and giving them the chance to make their views known. This is about mobilising the Church in the information age."

A Church member added: "People in the Church want to make their views known, and they are tired of the airwaves being dominated by a minority of people and their antireligious views."

However, there are limits to Christianity’s embracing of new technology. Three years ago the Church ruled that it was not permitted to submit confessions by text message.

In Scotland the strictly sabbatarian Free Presbyterian Church shuts down its website on Sundays.