Thou Shalt Not Text During Lent

By Anthony Castellano
|  Wednesday, Mar 4, 2009  |  Updated 2:45 PM PDT
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Thou Shalt Not Text During Lent

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Pope Benedict XVI praised social networking sites, but advised online social networking can isolate people from real social relationships and interactions.

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Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are asking their flocks to take a high-tech hiatus from gadgets for Lent and give up texting, listening to iPods, logging onto Facebook and surfing the web, according to the Associated Press.

Groups in Modena, southern Bari and other cities in Italy have called for a ban on text messaging every Friday in Lent, which began last Wednesday.

The task may prove more difficult than abstaining from eating meat on Fridays since Italians send 50 texts a month on average -- the second most in Europe, the BBC reported.

The suggestion that  Catholics ought to toss out tech for Lent comes on the heels of the Vatican's launch of its own YouTube channel in January. Pope Benedict XVI praised social networking sites, but advised online social networking can isolate people from real social relationships and interactions.

Gadgets aren't the only thing Italian bishops have urged Catholics to abstain from during Lent.  In Venice, the bishop has asked Catholics to drink tap water only, according to the BBC.

In Turin, the diocese is promoting the idea of not watching TV. In the northeast city of Trento, the church has created a "new lifestyles" calendar with suggestions people can do during Lent, the AP reported.

Many of these proposed rules look to help the environment, but they are also cracking down on social networking over the web.

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