Sunday, December 5, 2004

Cellphones at Mass - a Modern Nuisance

Stephen Riddle ("Flos Carmeli") had a difficult time at Mass today:

In Mass today we had a visiting Priest who gave a stirring and wonderful homily directly in tune both with advent and with the Eucharistic Year. While he was speaking to us the woman directly in front of us spent the majority of the homily talking, albeit quietly into her cell phone."

Mr. Riddle is blessed with a boundless supply of patience, having, as he said, "tried very hard to turn off judgement." I'm not sure I could have done the same.

Apparently neither could this priest:

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) -- It was the reporters who noticed first. Unable to call their editors while covering the weddings of the rich and famous, they asked the priest why their cell phones never worked at Sacred Heart. His reply: Israeli counterintelligence.

In four Monterrey churches, Israeli-made cell phone jammers the size of paperbacks have been tucked unobtrusively among paintings of the Madonna and statues of the saints. . . .

The four Roman Catholic Churches in this northern city began using the devices, from Tel Aviv-based Netline Communications Technologies Ltd., after an insurance salesman imported them as a personal favor for a priest.

"There are still many people who don't understand that being at Mass is sharing a moment with God," said the Rev. Juan Jose Martinez, a spokesman for archdiocese. "Sadly, we had no other choice but to use these little gadgets."

Source: "Don't try using a cell phone here" CNN. Oct. 19, 2004.

Too bad cellphone blockers are illegal in the United States. I know one ought to appeal to basic human courtesy and respect for the sacred, but in such circumstances more forceful measures seem to me warranted. ;-)

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