Friday, November 10, 2017

A Note about Photography in Church

I am sure that many of our readers have read that in his Wednesday audience this week, the Pope spoke very disapprovingly of the taking of photographs during the liturgy. “The Mass is not a show: it is to go to meet the passion and resurrection of the Lord, ... The Lord is here with us, present. Many times we go there, we look at things and chat among ourselves while the priest celebrates the Eucharist... But it is the Lord! ... (the priest says) lift up our hearts. He does not say, ‘We lift up our phones to take photographs!’ ... And I tell you that it gives me so much sadness when I celebrate here in the piazza or basilica and I see so many raised cellphones, not just of the faithful, even of some priests and even bishops.”

This is an excellent admonition, and sadly, a rather necessary one, but I am quite sure that His Holiness was referring to things like this:
and not to things like this:
Photo by Mr Arrys Ortañez, from our third Corpus Christi photopost of 2015, part of the Sacra Liturgia Conference held that year in New York City.
We do not live in a normal age in the Church’s life, and one of the things that makes it abnormal is the very widespread phenomenon of badly done and ugly liturgies; their ugliness is often far more distracting than any photographer, however poorly behaved. Photography is an extremely useful tool, I would say even a necessary one, for presenting people with models of liturgies which are well-done and beautiful. As long as they are taken with discretion, in a way that does not intrude upon the congregation’s ability to pray, I see no reason why we should have a problem with photographs taken during the liturgy. NLM will continue to publish such images, and we encourage others to do so. Photographs that have a documentary, historical, instructional or apologetic purpose, and serve as part of the Church’s evangelical outreach are one thing; photographs taken in function of the addictive selfie culture and digital tourism are another matter entirely.

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