Pope Francis posed a convicting question on March 5: How should Christians steward their time? During his weekly blessing, the Pope challenged his listeners to treat their Bibles the way they treat their cellphones. “What would happen if we turned back when we forget , if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cell phones?” he asked.
Although Francis urges a careful balance in technology use, he is no stranger to the Internet. During the 50th World Communications Day May of 2016, he spoke on the importance of listening and communication and said that technology and social media were valid ways of communicating.
“Access to digital networks entails a responsibility for our neighbour whom we do not see but who is nonetheless real and has a dignity which must be respected,” Francis said. He also uses Twitter and Instagram to communicate with Catholics worldwide.
This is not the first time he has spoken out about the dangers of technology obsession. In 2014, the Pope addressed a group of altar boys who had come to Rome on a pilgrimage, encouraging them to avoid wasting time on the Internet, according to NBC News.
“Our life is made up of time, and time is a gift from God, so it is important that it be used in good and fruitful actions,” Francis told them, who claims that he has not watched television since 1990.
Francis’ concern with cell phone use is grounded in scientific research. According to CNN, China and South Korea consider cell phone addiction to be a “significant public health threat.” In a poll conducted by Common Sense Media, 59 percent of parents considered their teens to have a cell phone addiction, and 36 percent reported having argued with their children about their cell phone use.
Francis also encouraged his audience to have a pocket-sized Bible with them at all times. This may sound familiar to Wheaton College students, as Wheaton President Philip Ryken gives the same recommendation in chapel at the beginning of every year. “I encourage you to carry around a copy of God’s word that has pages in it,” Ryken said in his chapel address at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. “I, too, use my Bible app … but I find it a little more distracting to have a phone in chapel and so I like to turn it off. That’s just brotherly advice.”
Junior Elizabeth Hossink said, “I think if students use their phone in chapel for the Bible app, it is fine, though a hard copy of a Bible is better because there is so much temptation to check messages or other apps if you are on your phone,” she said.