CatholicGoogle, which deems itself “the best way for good Catholics to surf the web,” launched last week. The new search engine, which is not affiliated with Google, makes use of “ ‘safe search’ technology” to favor Catholic-related sites and screen out “unsavory content.”
Snarky bloggers have seized on the browser's priggish tone, and largely dismiss it as a backwards attempt to censor information that's unfriendly to Catholic doctrine. Religion Dispatches offers a slightly more substantial take. It ran some hot-button words—contraceptives, abortion, stem-cell research—through the engine, and reports that it generally returned conservative Catholic sites.
But CatholicGoogle’s no Catholic Big Brother: The Religion Dispatches search results were shaped by the rhetoric of the search terms. By changing ‘contraceptives’ to ‘contraceptive rights’ and ‘abortion’ to ‘abortion rights,’ I received links to some progressive Catholic organizations, as well as NARAL, the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, and Atheism.com.
The site's not so ominous, then. Whether Catholics will find it particularly compelling is another story.