Can we build an Internet of good?

The Catholic App is a Scottish innovation whose creator has global ambitions to create a less toxic internet.

This week, Musemantik, the company behind the Catholic App, announced that it now provides accurate mass and confessions times for every Catholic Church in Scotland,

Musemantik Founder Maciej Zurawski said “The Catholic App now covers all of the churches in Scotland and is the most reliable central source in the world about the daily activity of Catholic Mass and confessions.”

As anyone who has ever searched the web for mass times in a strange city will tell you it’s not the easiest thing to find, and the App’s simple design hides a complex machine.

“It is extremely complicated and expensive to develop technology – that is a challenge”, Maciej says. “And another one is that the way how masses times appear online is very complicated. There are roughly 1500 Sunday Masses in Scotland, so we’ve had to build an AI, that understands all the exceptions and can predict when Mass times will change. It’s been a big challenge but we now have something that is really robust.”

On top of that information the Catholic App also now allows parishes to register on it, upload parish bulletins and other updates and he hopes that it will start to become a trusted source for all sorts of Catholic information.

“Be it the priest or someone on the parish council we want then to register their site on the App, to claim it and out what they want there. It should help them.”

He points out that the Pandemic has meant many catholics have migrated onto Facebook and other social media sites to access Mass online and find out information, but those platforms have hidden costs.

“I saw recently a parish in London said they were no longer using Facebook to update parishioners, because it’s unspiritual, it distracts your mind too much. And sites like that, they are designed to keep you on the site, they use algorithms based on Casinos to keep people engaged. Which they drive through conflict and we see how toxic a lot of the engagement of facebook and twitter can become. We’ve got a different ethos.”

He sees the App as calmer alternativer to much of what’s on the internet now.

“The app is an assistant, it’s purpose is to help you to go to church, that’s a very different purpose from getting you to look at the screen all day.”

The App was conceited in the year of Mercy out of conversations Macief had with Archbishop Cushely of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

“He saw it as gift from Scotland to Pope Francis for the year of mercy,” Maciel recalls. “That this could practically help people access God’s mercy through confession.”

In the years since it’s grown in fits and starts, and now covers in Scotland, Sweden, some of London, Central Boston and a small part of Spain.

“Of course there are challenges in growing,” Maciel says. “But we think this is something people need. It can help people discover rural churches, find masses on holiday, we find more benefits all the time.”

“The professional dream would be that in five, ten years time we are the Gold standard for how to access information about Catholic activities in countries all over the world,” he reflects. “But the spiritual dream is just that we help more people access God’s grace through Mass and confession.”

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