Can Nuns Have Phones? (Are There Restrictive Laws Against Smartphone Use?)

As a theology student, I was keen on understanding various Christian doctrines for a long time. I was particularly invested in understanding the lives of nuns and whether they are allowed to use modern technology. During my research, interviewing, and spending time in convents, I learned much about the nuns’ lifestyles and the rules on technology, like the use of smartphones. In a recent Q&A session with my theology students, it was obvious that they all thought that most nuns didn’t have phones and lived a life similar to the Amish religion. Based on my research, I was able to comprehensively answer the questions about how nuns live. So, can nuns have phones?

According to the most recent decree by Pope Francis, Catholic nuns are not allowed to use or have smartphones. They are also not allowed to use social media. The pope encouraged the nuns to avoid social media and the use of smartphones and to embrace a life of silence and service instead. However, some orders are allowed to use phones with no internet.

In this article, I’ll share more insights into the rules that Catholic nuns are allowed or expected to live by and how the use of smartphones among nuns. So, let’s get into it!

Does the Catholic church prevent nuns from having a phone?

According to the 2018 decree by the Pope, Catholic nuns aren’t allowed to have smartphones. The Catholic church not only advises against using smartphones but also advises them against using social media.

The document through which the decree was issued reminded the female monastics to lead a separate and silent life from the rest of the world. The Catholic Church encourages the nuns of the importance of a life of silence and recollection over the distractions of the world. According to the church, social media and smartphones bring in words, noises, and news which are impediments to the life that they intend to live by as nuns – a life of contemplation and silence.

At the same time, the papal guidelines advise the nuns to use smartphones and social media prudently and in a utilitarian manner if they have to use them. They are also encouraged to use phones and social media with a great deal of discretion and sober minds and to focus on quality information only. 

It’s worth noting that the world we live in requires some internet use and online presence, so there is no doubt that the nuns use phones. 

Can nuns use phones that don’t have internet?

Are There Restrictive Laws Against Smartphone Use?
Can nuns use phones that don’t have internet? Image source: Pixabay

Although Catholic nuns are encouraged to avoid smartphones, they may use the cellphones for communication. This is ideally the case for the apostolic nuns. The cloistered nuns, on the other hand, aren’t allowed to use phones, even those with no internet connection

In the case of nuns that can use phones without the internet, they are often encouraged and entrusted with acting responsibly with their phones. 

Can nuns use social media?

Catholic nuns can use social media despite the papal decree against using smartphones and social media. However, they are required to use the platforms constructively for work and informational purposes. When using social media, moderation is encouraged, and they shouldn’t be on social media for entertainment. Social media use among nuns is meant to be used prudently and for utilitarian reasons. These restrictions are considered noises and news, and these are the elements of social media that the nuns are warned against. 

In most cases, nuns with social media accounts will have shared accounts, often for a community or maybe anything else they are fascinated with, like their pets or causes they are interested in. 

The nuns are required to remain sober and to exercise discretion while on social media. They should be careful with what they read on social media and not take it all without filtering the content they access. 

How long can a nun stay on their phone?

While there are no specific timeframes regarding how long Catholic nuns can be on their phones, the Vatican encourages nuns to be careful about how much time they spend on the internet or their phones and that they shouldn’t overdo their phone or social media usage.

The Vatican encourages spending minimal time on their phones while paying attention to the quality of the information and the communication they read.

Since the nuns spend a lot of time in prayer and contemplation, silence, and chores, the nuns get limited time on their phones, perhaps after mealtimes or during breaks. 

By restricting the amount of time that the nuns can be on their phones, the Catholic Church makes it possible for them to lead the intended life, safeguarding recollection as well as silence, two of the most important tenets in a nun’s contemplative life. Life with minimal phone use or without phone use leaves the nuns with more religious spaces where there is no noise, words, or distracting news from the world. 

Do nuns have time to use their phones regularly per day?

Can Nuns Have Phones? 
Do nuns have time to use their phones regularly per day? Image source: Pixabay

Not really. With long days starting at 5 or even earlier, punctuated with prayers, chores, mass, and contemplative times (meditation and prayers), and ending after 8 pm, nuns hardly ever have time to be on their phones regularly. Their days are long and busy, so they often don’t have the time or need for phones. Most also opt to fill their leisure time with books and correspondence. As a result, nuns hardly have time to use their smartphones regularly.

What is the reasoning behind refusing nuns to use phones?

The main reason for refusing or restricting phone use among Catholic nuns is that phones are seen as a source of distraction to the nuns and can harm their vocations. Nuns are supposed to spend their lives in contemplation, silence, and prayer, and using phones or being on social media defies these by bringing in noise. The news, noise, words, and upheaval on social media and the internet, in general, can be distracting, especially because the lives of nuns are meant to be in full service of God and the church. 

While the nuns are allowed to use phones and social media with discretion and sobriety, it is easy to get lost in the noise, which is why they aren’t allowed the freedom to use phones. 

Lastly, there is the fact that their days are long and busy with schedules filled with prayer, work, and meditation, and having a phone thrown in the mix would mean bringing about an unwanted distraction.

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