Just days after one of their priests sang the praises of using the iPad for Mass, New Zealand’s bishops have said, “Not so fast.”
The New Zealand Bishops have told their priests that only the official printed copy of the Roman Missal may be used at Mass and at the Church’s other liturgies. They say that the Roman Missal apps for iPad and the use of other tablets, mobile phones and e-readers are excellent for study purposes, but their use in the Church’s litugry is inappropriate.
A letter sent to priests and signed by all the Bishops of New Zealand says that that all religions have books which are reserved which are reserved for the rituals and activities at the heart of the faith, and the Roman Missal is one such book.
“The Missal is reserved for use during the Church’s liturgy. iPads and other electronic devices have a variety of uses, e.g. for the playing of games, using the internet, watching videos and checking mail. This alone makes their use in the liturgy inappropriate,” they say.
UPDATE: Deacon Bill Ditewig writes:
I have no problem with using the iPad whatsoever. My pastor and I decided, after we received the grossly oversized copy of the Roman Missal that was purchased for us, that the majority of our servers could not, literally, lift it or hold it with any sense of decorum. (We have since purchased a smaller edition.) So we decided early on to use iPads (in matching liturgical red covers) for our work “at the chair” and to reserve the RM for the altar alone.
As a sacramental theologian and ecclesiologist I have no problem with using it in any case. After all, the first “Masses” were all done without any texts. Then came the first known liturgical text, which was a diptych used by the deacon to keep track of those who had died on one side and those who were in need on the other side. My guess is that “the deacon needs a crib sheet” caused consternation among some bishops. These were, literally, his notes for the intercessory prayers. Then came hand-written sacramentaries and lectionaries and graduales and so forth. And then some bright boy invented the printing press and ONCE AGAIN technology took over and some hippy introduced PRINTED missals into the liturgy — how dare they? Don’t they know how sacred those old hand-written texts were? And now, we move from printed text to cyber-text.