Pope Francis: Put away technology, enjoy family dinners

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Wednesday (Nov. 11) urged Catholics to continue the tradition of a family meal, leaving smartphones aside and switching off the TV to enjoy the “fundamental experience” of sharing food.

“The sharing of a meal — and therefore, other than of food, also of affections, of stories, of events — is a fundamental experience,” Francis said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Sitting around the table helps measure the health of relationships, the pontiff said: “If in a family there’s something that doesn’t work, or a hidden wound, at the table it's understood immediately.”

Francis also offered guidelines for mealtimes, which he said should be free from phones or other distractions. It can hardly be called a family meal when relatives “barely ever eat together, or (a family) which doesn’t talk at the table but watches television, or a smartphone,” the pope said.

The pontiff is known to shun modern technology, choosing not to browse the Internet or watch TV. He was, however, persuaded by Vatican staff to use a tablet computer in July to sign up for World Youth Day.

The pope also encouraged families to talk and listen to one another over dinner and avoid lavish spending on food.

“In rich countries we are persuaded to spend excessively on excessive nourishment, and then we do so again to remedy the excess. And this senseless affair diverts our attention from real hunger, of the body and the soul,” he said.

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