ROME—The crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso near St. Peter's Square has boasted tombs of cardinals for centuries. Today it is taking on a livelier vibe.The Catholic church in Rome is trying to win back young people with a nightclub in the crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso, complete with a beer and wine bar.Rev. Maurizio Mirilli, head of youth ministry in Rome's Catholic Church, has converted a section of the crypt into a nightclub with a live-music stage and a bar stocked with beer, Prosecco and other wine. Father Mirilli has christened the new watering hole GP2, short for "Giovanni Paolo II," as the late Polish pope was known in Italian.For Rome's young and restless, GP2 is the prime destination for mingling, dancing or having "a drink with a bishop," Father Mirilli said Saturday night. He he leaned against the club's mirrored bar and nursed a glass of pineapple juice as a phalanx of young men with gelled hair bobbed their heads to the Black Eyed Peas. Scrawled across the bar was a biblical passage from the Gospel of St. John, quoting Jesus Christ: "Give me a drink." (Actually, he was referring to water)."There should be more places like this," said Annalisa Gennaro, a 21-year-old theology student, as she and a friend made their way into the club. "It's about time the church woke up."Father Mirilli sees the club as a bridge to carry young Italians back into the Catholic fold. Like most dioceses across Europe, the Vicariate of Rome—as the city's local church is formally known—is looking for new blood. As it is, the pews at Basilica di San Carlo al Corso and other Roman churches have increasingly become the domain of the elderly as fewer young people turn up for Mass.
[Full article at The Wall Street Journal; tip: reader]