Pope Francis has a request for his followers: Put away your phones during Mass.
At a certain point in every service, Francis noted, “the priest says, ‘Lift up your hearts.’ He doesn’t tell us to lift up our cellphones to take pictures.”
The remarks were part of his weekly teachings and readings to a crowd of some 13,000 people on Wednesday at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
The subject is a personal one for Francis.
“It is a very ugly thing,” he went on in Italian, according to a translation by Catholic News Service. “It pains me greatly, when I celebrate Mass here in the square or in the basilica to see so many cellphones raised.”
And it’s not just the laity that do this, the pontiff said, “but some priests and even some bishops. Come on!”
“The Mass is not a spectacle,” Francis continued. “It is going to the passion and resurrection of the Lord.”
Some in the crowd applauded his message. Others presumably had their hands occupied by their cellphones.
Francis has discussed the effects of technology before.
In his “Amoris Laetitia” last year, Francis shared his advice on relationships, including his opinion that phones and other media “cannot replace the need for more personal and direct dialogue, which requires physical presence or at least hearing the voice of the other person. We know that sometimes they can keep people apart rather than together, as when at dinnertime everyone is surfing on a mobile phone, or when one spouse falls asleep waiting for the other who spends hours playing with an electronic device.”
His comments were part of a new series in which Francis reflects on the Eucharist.
He noted that many Catholics think of Mass as boring.
“Is the Lord boring?” Francis said, according to Vatican Radio. “No, no, it’s the priest. It’s the priests? Then the priests must convert!”
In other news, the pontiff decreed that beginning next year, the Vatican will no longer sell cigarettes.
“The reason is very simple: the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people,” Vatican press office director Greg Burke explained in a statement. “Although the cigarettes sold to employees and pensioners in the Vatican at a reduced price are a source of revenue for the Holy See, no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk.”