Pope Francis says the family meal is vital for fostering togetherness while noting the excessive attachment to technology can undermine bonding of the unit.
"A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family," the Pope said Nov. 11, Catholic News Agency reported.
"When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don't listen to each other, this is not a family, this is a pensioner!"
The pontiff delivered his remarks at his weekly Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Francis said the dinner table is an important place to strengthen family bonds and foster a sense of "togetherness," which he said can often be weakened by being too attached to technology.
CNA noted that since the latter part of 2014, Pope Francis has dedicated his the teaching at his weekly gathering to the family, which he made the lead-in to this year's Synod of Bishops on the Family that ran from Oct. 4-25.
In his teaching he focussed on the importance of family "togetherness."
"In family life we learn about togetherness from a young age, which is a very beautiful virtue the family teaches us to share, with joy, the blessings of life," he said.
The Pope noted that the most tangible sign of this when families are "gathered around the household table."
"Sitting at table for the family dinner, sharing our meal and the experiences of our day, is a fundamental image of togetherness and solidarity," said Francis.
He explained affection and the happy or sad occurrences of the day are also shared at the table.
The togetherness is a "sure thermometer" to determine the quality of family relationships as "in the family, if something is wrong, or if there's some hidden wound, at the table you see it right away."
"It was also in the context of a dinner where he gave the disciples his spiritual testament and instituted the Eucharist," the Pope noted.
Referring to Holy Communion, when Christians believe they have the body of Jesus when they eat blessed bread, Francis said, "The Eucharist reminds us that our bread is meant to be shared with all."