THE TELEGRAPH 8 NOVEMBER 2017 • 6:12PM
Pope Francis on Wednesday chastised priests and bishops who take pictures with their smartphones during Masses, saying they should focus on God instead.
"The priest says 'lift up your hearts'. He does not say, 'lift up your mobile phones to take pictures,'" Francis told tens of thousands of people at his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square, referring to a communion prayer in the Roman Catholic Mass.
"It makes me very sad when I celebrate (Mass) here in the piazza or in the basilica and I see so many phones held up. Not only by the faithful, but also by some priests and even bishops!
"The Mass is not a show ... so remember, no phones!" he said, prompting laughter and applause from the crowd.
Francis, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has regularly urged the faithful to be more spiritual and his priests and bishops to be more humble.
Pope Francis is so right when it comes to mobile phones.
Imagine how disrespectful it is for priests and bishops to be taking pictures on their mobile phones while they are concelebrating Mass with the Pope!
They are behaving like teenage girls attending a rock concert of their rock band hero!
You would have thought that priests and bishops might know better?
But then we are used to seeing bishops and priests misbehaving in more serious matters than the use of mobile phones.
MOBILES IN GENERAL:
There are so many places and situations where mobile phones are misused.
I recently went to a French Belfast restaurant to meet somebody for a meal and a talk.
The first thing my companion did when we were seated was to ask the French manager: "What is the password for your WI-FI"?
I was delighted when the French manager replied: "This is an authentic French restaurant, Sir. We have too much respect for our food and ambiance to encourage our diners to talk on their mobiles".
Don't get me wrong. I am a great believer in the mobile telephone and the ways in which it has transformed life for the good.
But all things in moderation surely?
Is it not an insult to your fellow diners to spend a lot of your time on a mobile during a meal?
Is it not even more disrespectful to be on a mobile during Mass - especially if you are a celebrant concelebrant.
Just as the TV has eaten into social conversation in the living room - so has the mobile phone further eaten into social interaction.
In the past, I used to look forward to longer bus and train journeys and the opportunity they gave to get chatting to new people and to interesting conversations.
Nowadays on a bus or train you are surrounded by almost everyone wearing wired or wireless earphones looking into space.