Pope Francis has slammed the use of smartphones and warned that they risk damaging family life.
Speaking at the Vatican yesterday, the Pontiff noted that the dinner table is where families experience a sense of "togetherness," but that it can be ruined by over-attachment to modern technology.
"A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family," he told pilgrims in St Peter's Square. "When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don’t listen to each other, this is not a family."
It's not the first time that the Pontiff has reiterated what millions of parents tell their kids - and each other - seemingly every evening. But it doesn't seem to make the slightest difference.
Back in August, the Pope warned that "chatting on the internet or with smartphones, watching TV soap operas" was not improving the quality of life but was "distracting attention away from what is really important" - like worshiping an all-powerful deity and overseeing a global network of adherents in dresses.
And then in January this year, the white-frocked religious leader returned to the family dinner in his message on the "world day of communications". That time he noted that "sitting at table for the family dinner, sharing our meal and the experiences of our day, is a fundamental image of togetherness and solidarity."
But that experience was being damaged by modern technology such as email, social media and smartphones. He did concede that modern technology helped family keep in touch with one another across the world, but he argued that "the great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information."
Why the focus on meals? Because Jesus made a point of eating with his friends. "It was also in the context of a dinner where he gave the disciples his spiritual testament and instituted the Eucharist," Pope Francis noted in January. The most famous picture of Jesus - the Last Supper - also features God's Son sharing a meal with his friends.
There is no iPhone in Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, largely because they didn't exist. But there is a video of what the scene would have been like if it took place today. ®