By Junno Arocho Esteves
ROME (CNS) – While taking selfies can be an occasion to capture treasured memories, it can also be a sign that young men and women are deprived of meaningful human interaction with others, Pope Francis said.
Responding to questions at a meeting with 1,700 priests and lay leaders of the Diocese of Rome gathered at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope said he realized the negative social implications of technology a few days earlier when he was greeting teens participating in a program of the international network of “Scholas Occurrentes.”
“They were all there waiting for me,” he said. “When I arrived, they made noise, as young people do. I went to greet them and only a few gave their hand. The majority were with their cellphones (saying), ‘photo, photo, photo. Selfie!’”
“I saw that this is their reality, that is the real world, not human contact. And this is serious. They are ‘virtualized’ youths,” the pope said. “The world of virtual communication is a good thing, but when it becomes alienating, it makes you forget to shake hands.”
Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, who is the vicar of the Diocese of Rome, had asked Pope Francis about his impressions of the meeting in March in preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on “young people, faith and vocational discernment” and how the church should respond to the needs of young men and women.