Spreading the gospel of life through Facebook

  • August 7, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - When Toronto resident Charbel El-chaar, 40, saw there was no online discussion for the cause of the late Pope John Paul II's sainthood, he quickly fixed that by starting a Facebook group called “John Paul II the Great is a saint. 1 Million person will say he is.”

More than just an online message board and an album to share photos and videos, Facebook has quickly evolved into a space where people advocate issues on a wide range of topics. And El-chaar didn't want the opportunity to pass him by to proclaim his desire for John Paul II's canonization.

“The reason I started this group was just to express my feeling of love for John Paul II,” he said. “I wanted to create a group to give people a place to honour him.”

Since its creation in April, the group has accumulated about 15,500 members. The list includes two bishops, an archbishop and two cardinals, although El-chaar said he has only confirmed the authenticity of Bishop Michael Campbell of Manchester, England. Bishop Julian Porteous of Australia has since also confirmed his authenticity with The Catholic Register.

Many members are Lebanese, like El-chaar, but membership has quickly grown to include people from all over, including Venezuela, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, France and more. By mid July, El-chaar said he saw a boom in Polish and Argentinian members.

The main page states the group's objective is “to tell the Holy See and our present Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI that millions of people all over the world love John Paul II and are waiting eagerly for the moment when the church will make him a saint.”

But El-chaar said his page is also playing a part in the evangelization of John Paul II's culture of life.

To provide an interactive element to his group, El-chaar has posted two past “events” — praying the rosary.

“What I'm doing now is asking people to pray the rosary every Sunday, because if we can pray together around the world, we'll be strong,” he said. “Prayer is very powerful and we are one global body of Christ.”

The rosary's current prayer theme is to end abortion. However, members are encouraged to post intentions they may want others to include each week as well.

El-chaar said he has also created the only pro-life web site in Arabic. He said “John Paul II the Great” inspired him with his writings on human life, such as Theology of the Body.

To see the Facebook group page go to www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=15340384223.

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