Why I Won't Play "Vatican Wars"

I’m more than willing to admit that I find much of the Catholic kitsch available today to be quite amusing, albeit completely unnecessary. (See plush Mass kit.) It seems many retailers know that, as global, diverse community, the church offers not only a huge network of spiritual support, but a large consumer market, as well. Apparently SGR Games, LLC, hopes to tap into that market with a new online game called Vatican Wars. According to the press release:

[Vatican Wars] is a revolutionary social game that exists at the intersection of religion, politics and social issues. Players are divided into two teams based on their opinions on topics including abortion, same sex marriage, the ordination of women and the use of birth control. [Married priests is another one.] Each team then works to ensure that a player from the other team is not elected Pope.


Perhaps, if the aim of this game was to unite the two sides of this virtual church, I could get on board. But it seems the only point is to defeat the other side and to elect a pope who believes in your personal interpretation of Jesus’ teachings.  You are meant to use your “Self esteem,” “energy,” “brainpower,” and “experience” to defeat others. In this virtual church—fueled by statistics and status—prayer, compassion, and listening to others don’t seem to play a role. Not to mention the fact that the concept of choosing sides within the church runs contrary to the point of the Church and the unifying love of Christ.  (Plus, the team names—the Templars (Conservative) and the Crusaders (Liberal)—make little sense.)

Yes, it’s just a game. But at a time when the real-life church sometimes seems divided beyond repair, this game hits just a bit too close to home for me to find it funny. The labels we, as Catholics, are willing to throw around or hide behind, and the sometimes vitriolic arguments that surround the most controversial issues in the Church are, to me, heartbreaking not humorous.

According to the SGR Games founder, the company did some sort of “extensive surveying” in which they discovered that “80 percent of Catholics surveyed supported creating a game where they could debate these topics.” But, as far as I can tell, the game creates a world in which Catholics with differing interpretations of church teachings should view each other as opponents to be persuaded rather than fellow believers with whom one might engage in dialogue. Perhaps this sort of manipulation leads to an eventual champion in the game’s virtual world, but in real life, when we reduce an ancient, beautiful, nuanced church to a series of endless arguments about a few hot-button issues, nobody wins.

Kerry Weber

You can watch the Vatican Wars "tutorial" below:

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 7 months ago
I only have a slow internet connection and couldn't watch the tutorial, but the title "Vatican WARS - Defending the True Teachings of Christ" was probably enough to let me know where it was headed.

I find myself sighing.  At this point I honestly think that we're going to have to abandon most of the trappings of Catholic "kitsch" as you call it - the pot is too poisoned - and head out into unknown territory - Church as we have not known it before.
david power
7 years 7 months ago

Beth, The Lord Jesus is waiting impatiently for us there . Most of this garbage is of human origin and has nothing to do with what Jesus spoke of in the Gospel.
"Church as we have not known it before". I see kindling burning in the distance.....
PJ Johnston
7 years 7 months ago
This looks like a slightly higher-tech, more contemporary version of the card game "Credo" (http://www.gamecabinet.com/sumo/Issue16.17.18/Credo.html) - a ruthlessly cynical game whose main virtue is to hammer home with excruciating clarity just how the ecumenical creeds were actually decided.  In that respect, it's almost as painful as Davis' "The First Seven Ecumenical Councils," for which it might serve as accompanying light diversion if you're an undergrad theology major in search of an alternative to carousing...
Craig McKee
7 years 7 months ago
I won't play cuz ya gotta sign up 4 FACEBOOK first. Zuckerberg is a thief - or did he offer the Winklevoss twins a $65 million dollar (based on dishonest company valuation!) out of court settlement check cuz they DON'T have a case against him?

As Albert Einstein said about Mahatma Gandhi:
''I believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil.''
Jim McCrea
7 years 7 months ago
"Created for early childhood education, My Mass Kit is a powerful vocational tool for children."

Nothing like buying this to prepare your female child for disappointment.
7 years 7 months ago
Ugh!   I don't think this is for me.   I'm with you here, Kerry.
Thomas Rooney
7 years 7 months ago
Being a Facebook-phile myself (a guilty pleasure that surely deserves frequent confession in and of itself), I actually have played an earlier version of this game, I believe it was called Priest Wars at the time. 

It was primarily a role-playing game, where you would debate other "priests" and would win or lose based on your chosen views (abortion, SSM, etc.), previous debating experience, and earned abilities.  Like in "Mafia Wars" or "Vampire Wars" you'd recruit as many people as you can for your congregation (as opposed to your mob or coven).  Same exact game with a different face. 

I thought it was interesting at first...but wow, did this bring out the worst in both wings of the Church.  Nasty, vile stuff; message board/blog debates x1000.  Here the aim is not to change hearts and minds but to theolgicallly "kill" you opponents.

NOT for me.
7 years 7 months ago
If the Pope and the Vatican were to allow a real discussion of the issues (celebacy, women priests, birth control, homosexuality, gay marriage, abuse crisis, etc.) then, perhaps, people would not want to turn to the Internet and games, in frustration, to make their voices heard.  When the hierarchy makes decision after decision with no discussion, no sensum fideles, everyone feels left out and anger builds in the frustration of it all.

Since John Paul II, the hierachy has been presiding over the beginning of the end of the Roman Catholic Church as we knew before them.  History will not be kind to their clericalism and unfaithfullness to Vatican II, including concepts of collegiality and subsidiarity.  Educated, thinking people are leaving the church.  The youth treat the Catholic Church as an oddity and something to be viewed from the outside.

It may take another generation or so, but the Roman church will no longer be Catholic, in the sense of 'universal.'  It will appeal to a minority of people in the world... the very poor and those who favor absolute monarchies.


The latest from america

Protestors march to support a U.N. anti-corruption commission in Guatemala City on Jan. 6. Photo by Jackie McVicar.
“What they are doing not only puts Guatemala at risk but the entire region. Bit by bit, for more than a year, they have been trying to divide us. The elections are at risk. We are six months away.”
Jackie McVicarJanuary 18, 2019
“We will just do what we need to do to help people in need,” said Antonio Fernandez, C.E.O. of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Emma Winters January 18, 2019
The study found Latina immigrant women in Arizona who were pregnant during the contentious S.B. 1070 passage had babies with lower birthweight compared with those in prior years. Average birth weights did not decrease among U.S.-born white, black or Latina women during the same time.
J.D. Long-GarcíaJanuary 18, 2019
This week's guest is Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, a pro-life feminist organization dedicated to changing the divisive language surrounding the abortion debate.
Olga SeguraJanuary 18, 2019