Catholic Church Fined for Mass Texting
Not to be confused with texting during Mass
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 25, 2013 3:56 PM CDT
A nun uses her mobile phone as she waits for Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus prayer from his studio overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, June 17, 2012.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

(Newser) – Austria's Roman Catholic church has learned its lesson: Mass is OK. Mass texting is not. A diocese in the southern city of Graz says it has been found guilty of contravening Austria's telecommunications law by sending mass texts to the cellphones of followers asking them to pay overdue membership fees. Diocese official Hertha Ferk was quoted by a local newspaper as saying the diocese has agreed to pay a fine that is under $13,475.

Members of recognized religions in Austria must pay so-called "church taxes" or opt out of membership. For a Catholic, non-payment would mean no right to church sacraments. A court took up the case after complaints from some of the 17,000 church members in arrears who received the text last year.

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