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Dear Fr Angelo,

I have a doubt that the Mass broadcast on television has the same value as the real one. Many people I know don’t go to church on Sundays because they listen to Mass from home and say it’s the same.

The same thing can be said for confessions via mobile phones: do they have the same sacramental value? I have doubts. What do you think?

Thanks for the reply.


Priest’s answer 

Dear Lorenzo,

1. Mass seen on television is not valid for the festive precept.

It somehow substitutes the personal presence at Mass for those who are prevented from participating.

Indeed, those who are prevented and follow it on television do a good thing.

But the thing is good not because they follow the Mass on television instead of going to church, but because even though they are exempted from participating for serious reasons, they try in some way to satisfy their soul of God all the same.

2. In fact, at Mass there is the real presence of the Lord, while on television this is not the case.

At Mass you can take Holy Communion, not on television. And this difference is not a small one because in the Holy Communion the Lord communicates many goods to us.

At Mass there is the priest who makes Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar. Whoever is in the Church participates in it because He is present.

On television there is no priest and there is not even the sacrifice of Christ to which one is united only spiritually.

At Mass there is the real community of brothers. At Mass the Church becomes visible. Indeed at Mass it becomes Church. Church in fact means assembly, convocation.

On the other hand, when one is at home in front of the television, one does not become a church, one does not make it visible or realize it.

At Mass we bring our own offering, a symbol of our personal participation in the sacrifice of Christ and of our sharing with the needs of the Church and of the brothers.

On television we abstain from all this and we lose many merits.

In the Church there is greater involvement. On television you sit from start to finish and are continually distracted also because the director very often turns the lens on the faces of the faithful.

To go to church, one must leave the house, prepare for it, take a more or less long journey that is already a spiritual preparation for the greatness of the event that is going to be celebrated.

There is generally no preparation at home.

Going to church and leaving the church, people meet, greet each other, say a few words. And so the community is kept alive.

Otherwise everyone would be an island. 

3. In conclusion regarding the Mass: if one fails to go to Mass without having serious reasons, he commits a mortal sin.

If one is prevented from going to church, he is not required to watch Mass on television per se. But it does a good thing if he tries to make up for that in some way with the help of television.

4. The same goes for confessions via mobile phones.

Meanwhile, I doubt that there are confessors who give absolution by phone. Because this absolution is invalid, requiring the sacrament for the personal presence of the penitent and the celebrant.

On this there was a precise intervention by Mgr. Patrick Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on 27.5.2001, who said that the sacrament of penance must always be celebrated “in the context of a personal encounter”, and that the online confession is not valid.

5. A person can confide sins to the priest by telephone. But this is not sacramental confession.

Nor can the priest give absolution.

6. In conclusion, I hope I have removed your doubts.

What I have told you, however, is not my thought, but the doctrine of the Church, to which my thought is perfectly conformed.

I gladly remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo