Which is more important to Christians: their Bible or their cellphone?
On Sunday, Pope Francis asked a crowd of pilgrims assembled in St. Peter’s Square to consider precisely that question. How Christians treat their possessions speaks volumes to what they care about, Francis suggested. And consciously or not, they are lavishing more attention on their cellphones than they are on their Bibles.
The comments, the Pope indicated, were not intended to turn people away from their phones, but to elicit reflection on Christians’ priorities.
"What would happen if we treated the Bible like we do our mobile phones?" Francis asked, according to Reuters. "If we turned around to retrieve it when we forgot it? If we carried it with us always, even a small pocket version? If we read God's messages in the Bible like we read messages on the mobile phone?"
A renewed focus on the Bible might also help Christians resist daily temptations, Francis said.
In practice as well as in profession, the Pope has pointed out a need to balance the advantages of technology with a recognition of the challenges it presents. Francis himself has never used the Internet, National Geographic reported in 2015. But his Twitter accounts – in both English and Spanish – have more than 23 million followers, and Francis regularly poses for “selfies” with the pilgrims who attend his weekly messages.
Speaking on World Communications Day in 2014, Francis described media as “a gift from God,” saying the Internet, in particular, offered “immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.” Technology, he has repeatedly shown, is a way to reach people where they are.
But that doesn’t mean it is without problems, he has emphasized. People can become so attached to technology that they lose sight of what really matters, including their families.
"Sitting at table for the family dinner, sharing our meal and the experiences of our day, is a fundamental image of togetherness and solidarity," Francis said in 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times, calling for families to put their technology away at the dinner table in order to communicate more effectively with one another.
This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.