Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 9, 2009
Italians asked to fast from texting, bottled water
New approach to fasting takes account of global needs
Personal digital assistants are one device people can use for texting their friends.
BY CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
ROME – Some Italian dioceses are asking the faithful to take part in a post-modern Lenten fast – no more text messaging or drinking bottled water.
But while the fasting challenges may be aimed at today’s technologies, they come from a concern for social justice.
Eighty per cent of the mineral ore columbite-tantalite used to manufacture cellular phones comes from Congo. Many human rights organizations believe the sale of the mineral has helped finance civil violence in the country.
That’s one reason Archbishop Benito Cocchi of Modena-Nonantola has asked people “to fast” from sending text messages on their cellular phones on the Fridays of Lent.
But for Cocchi the no-text Lent was a way to remember that “our style of life has an impact on geographical locations far away.”
THE STORY OF MILLIONS
“This year we want to remember that the use of our fingers on our cellular phones has contributed to writing the story of millions of lives in Congo,” he said.
As well, the Archdiocese of Venice’s office for Christian lifestyles has asked the faithful there “to turn on the faucet” and give up bottled water.
Bishops and priests in neighbouring dioceses have urged their members to do the same.
Italians lead the world in the consumption of bottled water, even though their tap water is clean and pure; a 2008 study said that each Italian drinks 190 litres of bottled water each year.
Father Gianni Fazzini, director of the lifestyles office, said the Lenten process of conversion means Catholics should “review our consumption and choose products that respect creation and the workers who make those products.”
FEWER WORDS, LESS FOOD
As Lent began Feb. 25, Cocchi told the faithful that Lent was a time to use fewer words and less food, drinks and games in order to concentrate on strengthening a real relationship with God and with others.
The archdiocesan office for missionary awareness, he said, had a good idea: Give up sending text messages.
Studies have shown that only in Great Britain and Spain do people send more text messages per capita than in Italy. In February a study of teenagers in Italy’s Lombard region concluded that every Italian ages 13-16 sends an average of 47 text messages a day.
BOTTLES IN THE CANALS
The proposal from the Archdiocese of Venice to give up bottled water was just the first idea on a list offered by the office for Christian lifestyles, but it was the suggestion cited most in newspapers and supported most by other dioceses.
Italian initiatives to reduce the consumption of bottled water have focused on the fact that it is unnecessary, expensive and creates garbage — bobbing water bottles frequently are a sight on Italian beaches and waterways, including the famous canals of Venice.