A tech-savvy priest who has worked on social media technology for the Vatican is launching a new app he claims will challenge censorship of Christian prayers in Muslim countries.
Launched on Saturday through iTunes, iBreviary in Arabic will give Arabic-speaking priests all the daily prayers they need on their iPhones, enabling them to skirt bans in the sale of the Catholic breviary in parts of the Islamic world.
“This app opens a door for religious freedom,” said Father Paolo Padrini, 41, who has earned the nickname “the iPriest” for his previous work advising the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on new media and his coordination of papal web portal Pope2You.
Pope Francis is a firm backer of new media initiatives including his Twitter feed, calling the internet “a gift from God.”
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In 2008, Father Padrini launched the original iBreviary, an app providing priests with all the daily prayers they required on their iPhones or iPads, meaning they did not have carry their printed breviaries around with them.
“The app has become a must-have for priests and cardinals and has been really appreciated with the Catholic Church,” said Father Padrini, who added that one satisfied customer was the influential Italian cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, once touted as papal material before he died in 2012.
“Now, with the launch of the Arabic version, the app can be used in those Muslim countries where the breviary is banned from sale and where, in some countries, you cannot legally even possess one,” said Father Padrini.
The app for iPhones is free and the Arabic is produced by volunteer translators, he said. The iPad version will available in three weeks and the Android version by the summer.
Father Padrini said assisting Christian congregations in Muslim countries was increasingly important as priests suffer persecution and violent attacks.
“The Catholic who prays in Arabic is a symbol of religious coexistence and peace,” he said. “I hope that the app is seen as a peaceful and not as a hostile gesture. And I hope it is not censored.”