NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The next time you go to church, Pope Francis says lift up your hearts, not your cell phones.
Cell phones in church are a “very ugly thing,” according to the pope. He told his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square that it upsets him when he looks out at the congregation and sees hundreds even thousands of people taking pictures and recording video during Mass.
“It makes me very sad when I celebrate here in the piazza or in the basilica and I see so many cell phones held up, not only by the faithful but also some priests and even bishops.”
Parishioners at St. Patrick’s Cathedral had a mixed reaction to the pope’s message.
“I think it’s a great opinion of the pope,” one man said.
“It’s disrespectful. You don’t have to use the cell phone all the time and if you’re in the house of God you should not be using the phone,” parishioner Rosie Haaf said.
“In general we lose out on so many experiences because we’re viewing everything through a screen,” parishioner Emily Ballenger said.
“I have never done it. If he doesn’t want it to be done, I won’t do it,” Floral Park resident Carolyn Wedick said.
“I think it’s a good thing, the good lord said ‘spread the word’ and you’re spreading the word that way,” parishioner Adrian Yetman said.
“I have my bible in my cell phone. So I’m looking at it, but I’m reading my bible or finding the scripture,” said Pamela Blanford.
Monsignor Harrington, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, told CBS2’s Elise Finch many people tend to lose focus during mass, especially at festive events like baptisms, christenings and weddings. They’re busy capturing the moment instead of being present in the moment.
“Essentially what we’re trying to do is give worship to God,” he said. “Sometimes technology can get in the way, it can actually inhibit our encounter.”
The pope regularly urges followers to be more spiritual while encouraging priests and bishops to be more humble.