A growing number of priests are taking their iPads to the altar. According to TheJournal.ie, priests are using the devices to do everything from reading the gospels to downloading blessing and even updating their Twitter accounts.
“It’s very handy,” says Fr Fintan Monaghan, secretary to the Archbishop of Tuam.
“There’s an application for the breviary, for example” the book which contains the prayers for saying mass. “In the past you had to lugg the three distinct volumes of it around with you. Now I can store them all in one place.”
“It’s also great for Twitter” he adds.
“My Twitter account says I am a Liverpool and Munster fan, so you are as likely to see me tweeting about that as anything profound” says Fr Ger Molony, a priest with the Redemptorist order. ”In fact, you’re less likely to see anything profound on it.”
He adds that he is still “trying to figure out" his recently purchased iPad.
“I had it 5 weeks before everyone else” says Fr Rushe in Dundalk, Co Louth, who got a couple honeymooning in New York to buy him an iPad on their way home to Ireland.
"Normally I would put everything, the opening remarks, readings for the day and notices for the church bulletin, in a black folder. With the iPad everything is done in one place."
He also points to the iMissal app, which contains all the liturgical material that priests need for saying mass.
“It’s dead handy really," he ssays.
But it’s not just the gadget enthusiasts who are adopting iPads.
While there are no official figures on how many priests are using iPads in church, Fr Sean McDonagh, a spokesperson for the Association of Catholic Priests, told TheJournal.ie that a large number of younger ones are using it.
“There’s a growing number who would be more clued in than old fogies like me. But why wouldn’t they when they can get the prayers, canon all there in front of them.”
However, opposition to iPad use in church is also growing in some quarters. Bishops in New Zealand have declared that only the official printed copy of the Roman Missal may be used at Mass and at the Church’s other liturgies.
“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 said.
Despite the opposition, Irish Catholic priests say they will continue using it.
“I’m not quite sure what they are making such a song and dance about,” said Fr Molony. “It’s going a bit far.”
Said Cox: “You have to ask, is it the message or the medium that is more important?”
However, he said: “I know some would disagree with me, but I think you should be discreet”
Cox, who hides the Apple logo in a black folder, added: “Otherwise what’s the next step? Sponsorship on vestments?"