Q. I’ve been reading about Pope Francis’ dislike of people using cellphones to take pictures during Mass. He believes that it is disrespectful to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and creates a carnival-type atmosphere. But at our parish, on special occasions — like a Mass recently to dedicate our newly remodeled sanctuary — cellphone photos are taken for the parish newsletter and the parish webpage. This is of particular help to shut-ins and keeps up their relationship with the parish. Similarly, who could blame a visitor to Rome lucky enough to attend the Pope’s Mass for wanting to have a pictorial record? The Pope asked if Jesus were present, would you be in a state of worship or taking cell photos? Could the answer be, “Both”? (southern Indiana)
A. I am quite confident that, if you were to ask Pope Francis, he would make an exception in the first example you suggest — keeping shut-ins informed about special parish events through a parish newsletter.
But as for your other example — a visitor to Rome snapping a photo during a papal Mass — I am just as sure that the Pope would say, “Sorry, but no. That’s just what I’m talking about.”
Here is what Pope Francis actually said at a Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square in early November 2017:
The Pope said that when the priest says (as he begins the preface of the Mass), “’Lift up your hearts,’ he is not saying, ‘Lift up your cellphones and take a picture.’” “No,” said the Pope, “it is an awful thing.” And he added, “It makes me sad when I celebrate (Mass) in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cellphones in the air. And not just by the lay faithful, some priests and bishops, too.”
The Mass, the pontiff explained, is meant to draw a person into a transformative encounter with Jesus Christ, and anything that distracts from that personal meeting with the Lord is to be shunned.
I would feel differently about a papal event that was not a Mass. At the regular weekly audiences, for example — which do not involve the Eucharist — the pontiff moves throughout the crowd, and there is ample opportunity even for close-up photos.
Q. Thirty-five years ago, I met my husband and disobeyed my parents by pursuing a relationship with him. My parents are good people, and I at the time was a willful 17-year-old idiot. They told me that I could not receive Holy Communion because I was in a state of sin and unrepentant. So I left the Church, and it has taken its toll. Now I would like to come back; my soul, I know, would be better off if I were going to church and receiving Holy Communion. I am missing Christ very badly. But the thing is this — I still don’t regret my love for my husband. He is a Southern Baptist and is very close to God in his own way. In order for me to return to the sacraments, do I have to leave him? He is a good man and doesn’t deserve that kind of betrayal. (City of origin withheld)
A. Thank you for writing — and the solution, it would seem, is fairly simple. I am assuming that you married your husband in an other-than-Catholic ceremony for which no permission had been granted by the Catholic Church. I am also assuming that your husband had never been married before (so that he does not need a Catholic annulment from a previous marriage).
You would by no means have to leave your husband now to return to the sacraments, nor should you. (Instead, you should thank God for bringing you into a union with a man who values his relationship with the Lord.)
What you need to do is to see your parish priest to arrange for a blessing (technically, a “convalidation”) for your marriage — and then you will be ready to return to the sacraments of penance and Holy Communion.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at email@example.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.