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The Dean’s Weekly Message – Sunday 19 May 2019 Posted on Saturday 18 May 2019

‘Don’t be a slave to your phone’
At the start of this week I was sitting outside a Trattoria in Tuscany sipping Bellini’s, and at the end of this week I am sitting back behind my desk in Liverpool grabbing a cold mug of tea! In between all of this I attended a one day seminar on legacies, something which we are hoping to do some work on at the Cathedral. I was picked out of the group and was told by the enthusiastic presenter that I have a ‘face for legacies’! I had no idea what this meant and hoped it had nothing to do with the number of Bellini’s I had quaffed, but apparently in the world of giving this is a good thing as it means my face is open, honest and warm!! Before I got back to my desk I attended a day’s course on how to conduct discipline and grievance investigations. Thankfully we don’t have that many at the Cathedral but beware of my ‘legacy face’ if the need arises!

What was interesting about Italy was that I didn’t notice that many people on their mobile phones. The relief I personally felt of not having to be constantly checking mine was enormous, so maybe I simply switched off – literally – and didn’t observe as many people as I usually see when I am out and about with their heads down, fingers dancing across the phone, and the art of conversation seemingly lost. I was reminded of the article that was published in The Tablet back in April. Pope Francis was urging students to ‘break their addiction to their mobile phone.’

In case you didn’t get chance to read it I have printed part of it here for you to read as I hope you find it interesting. The article was published on 15 April.

‘When you become a slave to your phone, you lose your freedom,’ said Pope Francis as he greeted people during an audience with students and staff from Ennio Quirino Visconti Lyceum-Gymnasium, a school in Rome, at the Vatican. Pope Francis told high school students to break their phone addiction and spend more time on real communication with others and in moments of quiet, personal reflection. Young people need to learn about “healthy introspection” so they can listen to their conscience and be able to distinguish it “from the voices of selfishness and hedonism”, he said. The pope told the high school students to “please, free yourselves from your phone addiction!” Looking up at his audience as they applauded, the pope said he knew they were aware of the many forms and problems of addiction. But, he warned, an addiction to one’s mobile phone was something “very subtle”. “Mobile phones are a great help, they mark great progress. They should be used, and it is wonderful everyone knows how to use them” for the “wonderful” activity of communication, he said. “But when you become a slave to your phone, you lose your freedom,” he said. “Be careful because there is danger that this drug – when the phone is a drug – the danger of communication being reduced to simple contacts” as opposed to true communication with others, he said to more applause. He told them to not be afraid of silence and to learn to listen to or write down what is going on inside their heart and head. “It is more than a science, it is wisdom, so as to not become a piece of paper” that moves in whatever direction the wind blows, he said.

“Dialogue among different cultures, different people, enriches a nation, enriches one’s homeland,” he said. It helps people move forward in mutual respect and be able to see the world is “for everyone, not just for some”.

Claire Hanlon
Assistant to the Dean

Canon O’Brien is away.