In the Catholic Masses I have been to, it begins with a procession of the priest along with acolytes and such and someone is holding up the Book of the Gospels decorated in gold or otherwise. This gets placed on the altar and the priest reads from it.

Could a Catholic priest potentially use a digital tablet (iPad, etc.) that contains the text of the Book of the Gospels (or the Lectionary for that matter) in place of this gilded one used during mass? Is there some requirement that the one used in mass has to have a certain appearance, or be made in a certain way? While I'm sure there are a number of reasons that this wouldn't be done (the possibility of technical difficulties, disapproval from parishioners who think it's inappropriate), is there anything within canon law or other church "rules" that would prevent this?

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    I'd swear there's been a question asked on this if only I could find it. Mar 1, 2017 at 6:03
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    You mean this one? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/45115/…
    – Marco
    Mar 1, 2017 at 13:28
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    There is no issue whatsoever regarding the Bible as such. Physical and digital copies may be used for non-liturgical use without restriction. The only issue is whether priests and other ministers can use electronic devices for liturgical texts (which includes the Lectionary and Book of the Gospels). Mar 1, 2017 at 15:55
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    No, the Book of the Gospels is carried in procession and placed on the altar. The lectionary starts out on the lectern. The question is actually fundamentally unclear, because in a Catholic Mass the books used are the Missal, Lectionary and Book of the Gospels (together with Liber Usualis/Graduale, perhaps). The Bible itself is not usually used, although I suppose the readings could be read from it directly rather than a prepared Lectionary. Mar 1, 2017 at 17:33
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    Great question! I was reading about the analogous requirements in Orthodox Judaism, where the rules regarding the creation of a Sefer Torah (ritual copy of the Five Books of Moses) are very extensive, requiring specific materials and letter styles, and it must always be entirely hand-written (yes, making one does take a long time). Mar 3, 2017 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


Could a Catholic priest potentially use a digital tablet (iPad, etc.) for the Lectionary or the Book of the Gospels during mass?

It seems the Rome has not yet pronounced on this matter officially. Yet the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference has made a statement on this subject matter. They responded in the negative.

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When the priest is finished proclaiming the Gospel at mass, he reverently kisses the Lectionary. This would seem like a lack of liturgical decorum to kiss some sort of electronic devices.

  • Nice finding! Could you make clear in the answer that this does not direcly concern the Lectionary, but the reasoning seems to be interchangable?
    – K-HB
    Dec 5, 2020 at 20:23

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