Church authorities in

"We're kindly asking priests to refrain from using emoticons in parish newsletters published online," Father Maciej Szczepaniak said in a statement.

"This is usually regarded as infantile behaviour," he said in the public statement, which itself included a smiley face emoticon by way of example.

Parish "publications refer to religious content and should not be rendered banal", added Szczepaniak who is the spokesman for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Poznan in western Poland.

"It was all just getting out of hand," the exasperated priest told AFP via telephone Friday. "In some cases, priests were using emoticons in each paragraph," he added.

It is not the first time emoticons have been a source of controversy.

Chinese censors scrubbed social media networks of candle emoticons and other tributes to Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo last month as they sought to silence discussion about the prominent dissident's death.

Last year the Japan-based Line messaging app got rid of a set of emoticons satirising Thailand's royal family to avoid breaching a royal insult law.

Line also removed same-sex emoticons from its marketplace in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, on orders from the government.