Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to put down their cellphones during worship which, he said, should be a time for prayer and not for taking photos.
That means priests and bishops, too, he said.
“This is a bad thing,” he said during his weekly general audience Wednesday at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
“It makes me very sad when I celebrate Mass here in the Square or in the Basilica and I see many cellphones raised,” the pope said, according to a translation by Vatican Radio. “And it’s not only the faithful, but also many priests and bishops.”
The Catholic News Service said on Twitter that the pope sounded “exasperated.”
“Please!” the pope implored. “Mass is not a show!”
The pointed remarks, reportedly off the cuff, drew applause. And they generally received favorable coverage in the Catholic press.
The Catholic News Agency, on Twitter, said: “The pope had something to get off his chest during his general audience today; he is tired of seeing so many phones out during Mass.”
It’s not the first time that pope has addressed cellphone usage. Speaking to crowds in St. Peter’s Square in May, he called on Catholics to turn to their Bibles with the same frequency as they use their cellphones.
And last year, in the apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetita,” or “The Joy of Love,” he urged Catholics to be mindful of when they use their cellphones. “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.”
In other words, cellphones can be a distraction in relationships with one another and with God. That was the crux of his message to Catholics this week, too.
During worship, the pope reminded his audience, priests invoke the faithful to “lift up your hearts” and not “lift up your cellphones to take a photo.”