Families sitting around the table with their heads turned down to their phones has become all too common a scene, but not if Pope Francis has anything to do with it! In his weekly catechesis in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope has reminded everyone that family togetherness is “a sure thermometer for measuring the health of relationships,” advising parents to ban all phone use while sharing a family meal. The Pope noted that this simple act can help restore a sense of family togetherness and will help teach children about the importance of relationships. With the dangers of screen addiction growing, the Pope’s important and relevant words at St. Peter’s are something that we hope all families will take to heart. Pope Francis stated,

“Today we reflect on a characteristic of family life that we learn from the first years of life: togetherness. . . Its symbol, its ‘icon,’ is the family gathered around the dinner table. The sharing of a meal — and beyond the food, sharing affections, stories, and events — is a fundamental experience. . . Togetherness is a sure thermometer for measuring the health of relationships: if something isn’t going well in a family, or if there’s some hidden wound, it’s immediately clear at the table. A family that almost never eats together, or that, rather than talking at table watches television or looks at the smartphone, is ‘not much of a family.’ When the children are attached to the computer and the telephone at the table, and don’t listen to one another, this isn’t family, it’s a hostel. . . Today, many social contexts pose obstacles to family togetherness. It’s true, today it’s not easy. We must find a way to recover it. At the table we talk, at the table we listen. No more silence, that silence that isn’t the silence of nuns, but the silence of selfishness, where everyone does his own thing, or is on the television or computer . . . and they don’t talk. No, no silence. We need to recover family togetherness while adapting it to the times.”

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