Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are urging the faithful to go on a high-tech fast for Lent, switching off modern appliances such as iPods and abstaining from surfing the web or text messaging until Easter, reports the Associated Press. The suggestion goes far beyond no-meat Fridays, giving a modern twist to traditional forms of abstinence in the five-week period that Catholics set aside for fasting and prayer ahead of Easter. Dioceses and Catholic groups in Modena, southern Bari, and other Italian cities have called for a ban on text messaging every Friday in Lent, which began last week with Ash Wednesday. "It’s a small way to remember the importance of concrete and not virtual relationships," the Modena diocese said in a statement. "It’s an instrument to remind us that our actions and lifestyles have consequences in distant countries."

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