Well! We've seen it all! A good friend has pointed me to the delights of "Priestville", a new "game" on Facebook, where you are a virtual priest with a virtual parish, and like Farmville and all the rest, you are "called" to progress.
But there's more!
You need to work on your charisma, integrity, self-esteem, brainpower and energy, and win parishioners, who, i suspect will give you gold coins or something. Maybe you will need the gold coins to buy a new biretta. Who knows? We are told: "PriestVille fans periodically receive free Parishioners, Gold Coins and other useful game items!" There is also an online confessional! Free parishioners, gold coins, and absolution too!
Hold me back!
It's tempting. I'm not taking the bait, but I suppose with a bit of time and effort, I could become a virtual bishop eventually, or even a Cardinal. Whenever things are not going too well in the "Real Deal", I could retreat and draw comfort from the fact that in Priestville I have a thriving congregation who hang on to my every word and do as they're told? When the real bishop calls to reprimand me, I can silently snigger, for in my virtual parish I have much more power than he has!
This could be a very attractive thing for the disillusioned in Holy Orders. We could sit on our backsides all day playing with our laptops, and let the parish go to the dogs, either our real one or our virtual one. Hmm or maybe that happens anyway?
The biggest boon to the Church, though, could be in scrapping selection conferences for potential clergy. We can now just tell potential ordinands to go away for a year, play Priestville, and if they have a successful parish, or have risen to the heights of Dean, Canon, Bishop or whatever in that time, they would be a shoo-in for training!
I'm just waiting for some smart-ass to tell me that their congregation is thriving on Facebook, and that I should be ashamed of myself. My retort will have to be that the game doesn't seem to mention God, although maybe God comes in at some point after you have enough gold coins, and there is nothing in the initial blurb about praying. However, who needs God and prayer when you can run a successful parish on Priestville?
PS If you get your parishioners to join Opus Dei, then you won't lose them! Spooky, eh?