A bar being run by the Catholic Church might sound like the setting for a lame Irish joke, but it’s not Irish and it’s no joke.
AFP reports that a bar recently opened in northern France with the backing of the Catholic Church. Bar Cana in Lille launched this month as part of an effort to reach out to younger people, who might be more willing to interact in a bar on a Saturday night than in church on Sunday morning.
“It is, at heart, an effort to reach young people and those who have never had the idea of entering a church. And perhaps it is easier to go into a bar,” said Benjamin Florin a 29-year-old Lille diocesan worker who was one of the initiators of the project.
Although we can’t help thinking that the type of interaction likely among young people in a bar on a Saturday night is not quite what would be acceptable during Mass the next morning.
The bar’s name is significant, referring to the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus is said to have performed his first miracle – turning water into wine, rather than the infinitely easier and much more common practice of turning wine into water.
Bar Cana was inspired by the Pope, who has told the church to think outside the square when it comes to going about its pastoral business and this is certainly a left-field idea. It took two years of planning applications and a financial kick-start from the church to get started, but customers have seen it as a blessing.
Aurélien, Constance and Sylvain were sipping Trappist beer at the bar when AFP spoke to them. “The concept of a Catholic bar intrigued us,” said practicing Catholic Sylvain. “They want to break the traditional image; you can feel a new way to live the Gospel, even if this time they change water into beer.”