Mass not a time for smartphones, says Pope Francis

Christians, bishops, and priests ought to refrain from using their smartphones during the Mass and instead devote that time to prayer, Pope Francis reminded the faithful gathered at  Saint Peter's Square on Nov. 8.

(REUTERS / Tony Gentile)Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 21, 2017.

During his weekly audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis rebuked Christians who held up their camera phones in the middle of the Mass. The pontiff said this made him feel sad, the AFP relayed.

"At a certain point the priest leading the ceremony says 'lift up our hearts'. He doesn't say 'lift up our mobile phones to take photographs,'" Pope Francis told the pilgrims at Saint Peter's Square. "It's so sad when I'm celebrating mass here or inside the basilica and I see lots of phones held up -- not just by the faithful, but also by priests and bishops! Please!"

This was not the first time that Pope Francis warned Christians against getting too attached to their smartphones. Although he is social media savvy and has 14 million followers on Twitter, he previously told young people to refrain from using their phones during family meals to maintain face-to-face communication.

In a report published in November 2014, the National Catholic Reporter highlighted the effect of too much smartphone use in schools, families, and the church. The parish life director of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Ballston Lake, Dorothy Sokol, told Albanian diocesan paper The Evangelist that Christians should put away distractions when they are inside the church and focus on prayer.

Father Richard Carlino of St. John the Evangelist and St. Anthony parishes in Schenectady, on the other hand, recommended putting cellphones on silent mode when inside the church. He suggested that worshippers do not have malicious intent when they use their gadgets in the middle of the service, but he also said it could be quite distracting for the pastor when a phone rings during the Mass.