Pope reminds families to talk, not text

(Photo: Reuters)

In his annual message released Friday for the Catholic Church's upcoming 49th World Day of Social Communications, the Pope calls families to have time to sit down for a real conversation.

"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," the pope said.

With the theme "Communicating the Family – a Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love," the Pope's message highlights how we learn to communicate within the context of the family.

Citing the challenges to effective communication, the pontiff points out how technology should serve human relationships and not undermine them.

Though acknowleding that media "can help communication when they enable people to share their stories, to stay in contact with distant friends, to thank others or to seek their forgiveness, and to open the door to new encounters," the Pope warned that they can also prevent genuine human connection.

"The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that 'silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist,'" Pope Francis wrote.

According to Time, the 78-year-old pontiff said something in a similar vein last year when he stated that "many young people waste too many hours on futile things," like "chatting on the Internet or with smartphones."

With the current frenzy around smartphones and social media, Pope Francis urges the faithful to "employ technology wisely, rather than letting ourselves be dominated by it."

Aside from encouraging personal encounter and urging for the responsible use of technological advances, the Pope also touched on how modern media tends to communicate information.

He reminded the faithful to keep in mind that issues too often get simplified, viewpoints are "pitted against one another," and "people are invited to take sides, rather than to see things as a whole."

The Pope concludes his message by saying, "Families at their best actively communicate by their witness the beauty and the richness of the relationship between man and woman, and between parents and children.

"We are not fighting to defend the past. Rather, with patience and trust, we are working to build a better future for the world in which we live."