Lourdes-based “Catholic Google” may be rebaptised

January 6, 2009

Catholic Google has a catchy name, a funny logo and a location near one of the most Catholic places on Earth, the pilgrimage town of Lourdes in southwestern France. After only three weeks on the web, it has seen its user stats grow to about 16,000 visits a day. But the site that describes itself as“the best way for good Catholics to surf the web” may be in for a rebaptism. Its webmaster has asked Google if it has any objections to the name and is waiting for a reply.

While doing research for my blog post on Catholic Google on Sunday, I found it was based in a village outside of Lourdes. In a phone call today, webmaster Paul Mulhern told me he set up the website with standard Google filters last month as a service for Catholics who want to surf the web without all the objectionable material they usually come across there. The idea came from his wife, who runs a religious goods shop in Lourdes. They’re originally from Leeds in the UK.

He said most reaction to the site had been positive, although some comments accused him of trying to create a segregated corner of the web just for Catholics. “I can see where they’re coming from but I think they have the wrong point of view,” he said.

(Photo: Pilgrims pray at the Lourdes grotto, 5 Nov 2006/Regis Duvignau)

Mulhern said the safe search filter blocked most objectionable material but it still let some through, as readers who’ve tested it have found to their amusement: “We’re in the process of trying to eliminate as much of the unsavoury adverts as possible, but they have to be blocked by domain name, which is why it is taking some time.” Those ad links on the right side of a Google search can change according to where the reader is based, so this could be an enormous job. And the more ads he blocks, the less he potentially earns.

Some bloggers have asked if this site violates the Google trademark. “I’m in the process of speaking with them,” Mulhern said, adding he was dealing with Google in the United States. “I’ve asked whether they object to the name.” Just in case they do, he has been thinking about alternatives. “We’re thinking of changing the name of the website to something more catchy,” he said. “We might put out a poll.”

He may not have to rebaptise the site. The search engine’s office here in Paris told me they’re flexible about how Google is used on other websites as long as it clearly gets the credit for the search facility. The Google office in the United States dealing with his query would have to decide if he can keep the name and logo.

3 comments

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It is great to learn even more about the guy behind “CatholicGoogle.” Very well written article by the way. I wrote a post about the “CatholicGoogle” over at Catholic Tech Tips and it has sparked some good discussion.

[...] of this writing, CatholicGoogle.com stats has grown to 16,000 hits per day and its still growing. The webmasters have already sent a letter to Google asking if they have [...]

[...] Henegan has contacted the owner of CatholicGoogle, the search engine that gives higher authority to Catholic web sites and filters out pr0n. He picks [...]

To Bluepanjeet – It’s hard to find a diplomatic way of saying what I have to say in response to your blog entry about this post. YOU HAVE IT COMPLETELY WRONG! YOU HAVEN’T READ WHAT YOU’RE COMMENTING ON!

Let’s go through this point by point showing what you said and what was actually written:

1. “But according to TechCrunch, its absolutely effective as the bursting fishnets in the Gospel of Luke…” — Sorry, that was FaithWorld saying that, not TechCrunch.

2, “Tom Heneghan, the site’s creator told in an interview that the search engine…” — No, I am not the creator of the site. And it was me conducting the interview with Catholic Google’s creator, not TechCrunch.

3. “In a Phone interview with NCR, Catholic Google webmaster Paul Mulhern admitted …” — no, it was in a phone interview with Reuters (i.e. me and reported on FaithWorld), that Mulhern said this. National Catholic Register only picked this up — and they openly credited me for it by name and with links (many thanks NCR!).

4. “The webmasters have already sent a letter to Google …” — Why do you put this in the plural? This was Mulhern talking and he was the one (rpt ONE) who did it.

5. “Though I think Tom Heneghan’s noble purpose is to aid Catholic Parents in filtering the search engines for their children …” — though I appreciate that readers think I have noble purposes, I cannot be credited with this one as I have not done anything to aid Catholic parents, etc etc etc. It was Paul Mulhern who did that. Give credit where credit is due.

6. “I appreciate and really commend Tom Heneghans (sp!!!) for this noble project, but to actually save the internet from evil is a mere impossibility …” LOL! First, what noble project have I undertaken? (see answer #5). Secondly, I said myself in my post that I thought it was was a fool’s errand to try to filter everything. Thanks for indirectly quoting me against myself!

Wow… I’ve seen lots of comments on my blog posts over the past year or so, and many have been misplaced, but this one takes the cake. Please, please, PUULLEEZZEE!!! read what we post before you comment on it. Only then can we avoid such embarrassments and have an informed discussion about these things.

I hope you correct your post (URL= http://bluepanjeet.net/2009/01/08/2031/c atholic-google-dot-com/) because it gives a very misguided view of what’s happening here.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

I am the owner and creator of TheCatholicSearch.com, which has been around for a few years now. The way our site works is we only give search results from sites that have been submitted by our users and reviewed for Catholic content. The idea came to me during my RCIA classes. I received a list of sites to study and I decided that a “Catholic Search Engine” that only searched these sites would be useful. It kind of grew from there.

I also should mention that the other site that you mentioned will probably get into trouble with Google. Originally TheCatholicSearch.com had a “googlish” logo and other “googlish” features. Google did not like it and shut us down for a bit until we sorted it out and changed our logo design.

Thanks, Jereme