VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, speaking Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, said he was disappointed to see so many people using mobile devices when they should be worshiping during Mass.
“It makes me very sad when I celebrate Mass in the Square or in St. Peter’s Basilica and I see so many phones in the air,” he said in his off-the-cuff remarks.
Francis reminds Catholics that the priest who celebrates Mass asks the faithful to “lift up your hearts” and not “lift up your cellphones to take a photo.”
But it’s not just the cellphone usage of people in the audience he has issues with. He has words for those in church leadership too.
“It’s not only the faithful, but also many priests and bishops. Please. Mass is not a show,” he said.
Francis has hit on this theme before. Earlier this year, he asked the faithful what would happen if they checked the Bible as often as they checked their cellphones.
“What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?” he asked during an address in March after a blessing at St. Peter’s Square.
Francis also hit humanity’s addiction to all things digital in the summer of 2015 in an encyclical (a letter traditionally addressed from St. Peter’s Square to the more than 1 billion Catholics across the globe).
Buried within a 192-page encyclical about climate change, the pope warns of the dangers of bowing down to the altar of technology and putting a digital filter on our lives.
“When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously,” he writes.
“In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload.”
In addition to calling out cellphone usage during Wednesday’s Mass, the pope voiced his displeasure at other lax behaviors of some Catholics in the pews.
A seemingly vexed Frances, again veering from his prepared remarks, took Catholics to task for chatting during Mass and for complaining that Mass was boring.
“The Lord is there,” the pope said. “Is the Lord boring?”
Even children were not spared Francis’ disapproval.
“Have you seen the way some children make the sign of the cross?” he said, gesturing a sloppy blessing. “We need to teach children to bless themselves properly. That’s how Mass begins, that’s how life begins.”AlertMe