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“If you want to see God, send him a WhatsApp while you’re driving”

Spanish priest’s effort to get people to turn off their phones during Mass proves a hit on social media

A curious sign hangs on the door of the church of San Pedro de Ramallosa, in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia. The information on the sign has nothing to do with Mass schedules or notices about upcoming religious events.

The priest, Xosé Manuel Lence, was sick and tired of hearing cellphones ringing inside the church, and it seems that he has found the perfect way to put a stop to it – while at the same time illuminating churchgoers on their relationship with the Lord.

I used humor to raise awareness about the fact that being so dependent on this device is not a good thing

Father Manuel

“When you enter this church, it is possible that you will hear the ‘call of God,’ but it is highly unlikely that he will call you on your cellphone today,” reads the message, written in the Galician language. “Thank you for turning off your phone.”

There is an additional note of irony in the final message, which alludes to one of the leading causes of road accidents: “If you want to TALK to God, come inside, choose a quiet spot, and speak to him. If you want to SEE God, send him a WhatsApp while you’re driving.”

The humorous advice immediately caught the attention of local residents, and from there it spread on social media.

The parish of A Ramallosa has a resident population of just 4,788 but it is a traditional summer destination for those who live in the Vigo metropolitan area. So far, the priest’s message seems to have won support.

I think it’s disrespectful when people don’t turn off their phones when they walk into church

Milagros, local café owner

“He’s right,” says Milagros, who runs one of the busiest cafés in the village. “I think it’s disrespectful when people don’t turn off their phones when they walk into church, because it’s very annoying, especially for the priest. I understand why he’s taken steps.”

The priest says he was not expecting such an impact from his message, and that the only people he meant to reach were his own parishioners.

“I used humor to raise awareness about the fact that being so dependent on this device is not a good thing,” he says. “And I’m not just talking about church; you also have to turn it off in public spaces because it’s an annoying sound.”

“We should avoid it if we can,” he concludes. “We should not use it to replace a good old face-to-face conversation.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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