Week of August 9th, 2015
Hi everyone, below is my 3rd of 4 total installments on Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” which I would like to present to you. My reason for doing this is because I know many of you may not have the time nor the opportunity to read the whole 82 page document, so I have been offering bits and pieces for you as parish members to reflect and ponder. This week Pope Francis speaks of the blessings of our human progress and yet the limits of technology that we as a People of God should be concerned about as we move forward:
#102-105 Humanity has entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads. We are beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous waves of change: steam engines, railways, the telegraph, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine, information technology and more recently digital revolution, robotics, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. It is right to rejoice in these advances and to be excited by the immense possibilities which they continue to open up before us… Technology has remedied countless evils which use to harm and limit human beings… Technologies, when well directed, can produce important means of improving the quality of human life… Yet, it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, knowledge of DNA and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us tremendous power….Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used. We need to think about nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century, or the array of technology which Nazism, Communism, and other totalitarian regimes have employed to kill millions of people… There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means “an increase of ‘progress’ itself,” an advance in “security, usefulness, welfare and vigor, an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture” as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such. The fact is, contemporary man has not been trained to use power well because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience… Our freedom fades when it is handed over to blind forces of unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence.
#107-112 We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of a certain powerful groups….Their behavior show them maximizing profits is enough. Yet, by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion… At the same time we have a sort of super-development of a wasteful and consumerist kind which forms an unacceptable contrast with the outgoing situations of dehumanizing deprivation, while we are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources. The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for relationships between things, and for the broader horizon which then becomes irrelevant… Yet, we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology, can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral… #121 Christianity, in fidelity to its own identity and the rich deposit of truth which it has received from Jesus Christ, continues to reflect on these issues in fruitful dialogue with changing historical situations. In doing so, it reveals eternal newness. (To be continued…) Fr. LeRoy