Pope Francis: “Lift up your hearts,” not “Lift up your phones.”

At today’s Papal audience Pope Francis scolded people for their inattention at Mass, and particularly for the way people at Papal Masses seem more concerned with getting a shot of the Pope than focusing on Christ present in the Eucharist:

It’s a bad thing! And I tell you that it gives me so much sadness when I celebrate here in the Piazza or Basilica and I see so many raised cellphones, not just of the faithful, even of some priests and even bishops. But think: when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you’re distracted. (But) it is the Lord!

I kind of know how he feels, though people are far less interested in snapping my picture than than they are in snapping his. At a recent baptism I asked, at the request of the child’s father, that people stop taking pictures. On the one hand, I can appreciate how someone might want to snap a quick picture to preserve a memory of an important event. On the other hand, we can get so distracted that we end up preserving a memory of an event in which we have not really participated.

The report also notes that the Pope will be making the Eucharist the focus of his catechesis for the next few audiences. This should provide much material for reflection.


  1. IMHO, smartphone cameras have become so ubiquitous that they no longer pose much of a distraction, and in fact are an expression of exuberance that contributes to, rather than detracts from, the celebration at hand. And if anyone thinks that cameras and devices are out of control at a Roman liturgy, I suggest attending a Coptic wedding. The last one I attended there were three video cameras, swinging around on booms, all within the same tiny sanctuary. They detracted not one iota from the active and exuberant participation of the consciously worshiping assembly. The Third Millennium is far too late to remain a liturgical camera snob. And, if someone finds that something is distracting them from prayer, they can either close their eyes, or look away.

  2. Perhaps an Ad Orientem posture would aid in Pope Francis being less distracted by the faithful who may never again in their lives be able to attend Mass with the Vicar of Christ, and wish to preserve a memory. Or perhaps they’re merely following along on the magnificat app. Just a thought. 🙂

  3. I have long been distressed by a cultural desire for documentation and display rather than intentionality and participation. I have been one to ask people to take joy in celebrating the moment, and to put away the camera. In my own experience, using cameras not only distracts the photo taker, but the object of photography! This has happened to me, as a leader of liturgical music. Some sour notes have happened as a result…. Analogously, if our liturgical leader, the Pope, is distracted during the Eucharist, what have we left?

    On a related note, I am personally doubtful that the orientation of any of the participants or leaders of an event what discourage the use of cell phone cameras. In fact, it might cause people to have them out more readily, as they would be waiting for that glimpse of a full face!

  4. The Holy Mass needs to be made the center of our lives. We need to pray for the conversion of the flock of shepherds.

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