Who hasn't felt the need to shoot off a text every now and then, even under awkward or slightly antisocial circumstances? Sometimes, whether to respond to a friend or loved one or just to escape a boring or awkward situation, people living in this bold new technological age will fall back on their magic little windows into the rest of the world. And yet, the leader of the Catholic faith is not so sold on the merits: Pope Francis has a Doomsday message about dinnertime texting, and it's clear that he takes the matter more seriously than you might have expected.
According to a report from U.K.-based newspaper The Telegraph, Francis warned that the unwillingness to communicate with close friends and family is not unlike the inability of nations to move forward in peaceful dialogue, a precursor to the outbreak of war. That may sound slightly hyperbolic, but he did reportedly say it ― specifically, during a speech to assembled college students at Roma Tre University in the Italian capital of Rome.
When there’s no dialogue at home, when we’re at the table and instead of talking everyone is on their phone … it’s the start of war, because there is no dialogue.
In fairness, Francis ― known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio prior to his ascension to the papacy ― also touched on the lack of dialogue between political leaders are a precursor to war, which is a bit more to-the-point. While he didn't name names, he did reportedly refer to politicians insulting each other, and the toxic grounding that creates against peace.
"In the newspapers, we see this one insulting that one, that one says this about the other one," Francis reportedly said. He also criticized the phenomenon of televised political debates, which became bigger events in American political life last year than they'd ever been before.
... where even before one (candidate) finishes talking, he is interrupted. Where there is no dialogue, there is violence. Wars start in your heart.
Needless to say, both inside and outside of the United States, the whole world is getting familiar with the perils of a powerful global leader lacking, shall we say, the tact and nuance required for matters of dialogue and diplomacy. According to the International Business Times, Francis also criticized Trump's executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim majority countries, saying in remarks from the forum in Rome that such a ban was rooted in "self-centeredness" and "populist rhetoric."
Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate. Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centeredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.
Needless to say, it should be interesting when Francis and Trump finally meet. It's believed that might happen when Trump travels to Italy in May for the G7 meeting in Sicily, and it'd be fascinating to hear what they'll discuss if and when it happens ― Trump attacked the Pope for criticizing his border wall proposal during his presidential campaign, calling the 80-year-old pontiff a "pawn" of the Mexican government.