In an age of widespread popularity of the smartphone to remain connected, a Pakistani archbishop has called on his faithful to refrain from using their smartphones for an hour during Lent.
Speaking to the faithful at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, last week, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore called for "an hour of fasting from smartphones to avoid distractions during the 14 Stations of the Cross and Sunday Mass”. “Mobile phones,” he said, “are like having Satan stashed away in your pockets when you come to church."
Lent is a 40-day period when Christians pray, do penance, fast, abstain and engage in almsgiving and good works in preparation for their holiest feast, Easter, the triumphant resurrection of Jesus from death.
The period is in imitation of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert after his Baptism, facing the temptations of the Devil, before he began his public ministry.
Pakistan and its young people are no exception to the revolution of the smartphones sweeping across the globe. There are at least 155.4 million mobile phones in the country with a population of some 197 million population. According to the Pakistani telecommunications authority, about 63 million users have signed contracts for 3G or 4G connections.
Studies have shown that in Asia – especially South Asia - there is a lack of knowledge of how the internet works and its dangers. In Pakistan, around 69 per cent of the population
Archbishop Shaw wants to warn young people against developing an addiction to the smartphone, like drugs. He lamented that “young people keep sending messages even while they are praying."
Instead, he said they should use Lent to analyze their life and give up habits and behaviours that distance them from others. “Be firm in the face of temptation," he urged.
In Pakistan, the use of mobile phones inside churches is also a security issue, related to terror attacks. For this reason, Church authorities have banned taking photo or video, including during religious holidays like Easter and Christmas.
Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad agreed with his fellow bishop in Lahore. "Although it is a great source of information at one’s fingertips, the unbridled use of mobile phones is most dangerous for young people,” he said. He pointed to the harmful radiation from mobile phones and their use for wrong purposes and said they can destroy families.
Catholic Church leaders could simply invite the community to put their phones on 'silent' mode during prayers. Patras said there are other forms of distraction in the churches that need to be tackled, such as children running around and families chatting with each other during church services. (Source