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Technology is not neutral in the Pope’s eyes

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On the fourth anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato If’, the Secretary of the Dicastery for the Communication speaks of the novelty of the approach of the Pope on the ecological crisis and its relationship with technological innovations.

It has been four years since the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si’ and it seems that the depth of its value has not yet come to light. What is your main contribution?

Laudato Si ‘ was a big surprise for the church and the world. Never before has a pontiff addressed the ecological crisis in such a holistic manner and with such an original approach. In fact, this Pontifical document broadens its gaze on the origin of the ecological crisis and focuses on its human causes rather than on the effects of the degradation of the various ecosystems. Therefore, the Pope affirms that the detriment of nature comes mainly from a political, economic and social disorder, rather than from biological and climatic circumstances.

In his reflection he insists on pointing to the “technocratic” (diverse from technological) model of development among the main ones responsible for the current situation which, by the way, also generates a deterioration in the quality of human life and a social degradation. In short, Pope Francis offers a more comprehensive analysis of this problem that afflicts every inhabitant of Earth or of “our common house”, as he calls our planet.

According to the Pope, is technology the main problem of this technocratic model?

No, the point is not technoloy. In fact, the Pope conceives technology as a very useful tool, as a great fruit of human creativity that we have received as a gift from God, and that we have the responsibility to develop. However, we must be aware that although technological innovations have been designed for a good, they can be used for an evil or for another purpose, other than that which was thought of as its origin. Therefore, technology is not neutral in the eyes of the Pope, as the same thing that can foster development can also generate large-scale environmental, social, economic and political problems.

Pope Francis warns us about the role of instrumentalized technology in the “technocratic model”. Thus, reality is measured and administered only from an economic approach, which is a very reductionist approach. Therefore, the environmental, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions of human society are in the background and are not taken into account in political, economic and social decision-making at both the local and global levels. After all, this kind of method harms humanity, particularly the most vulnerable.

Every day we can see that some kind of technological application diminishes the dignity of individuals and communities and is far from contributing to true human promotion. The Pope is very strong at this point, and therefore affirms that “a technological and economic development that does not leave a better world and an integrally superior quality of life cannot be considered progress” (LS 194).

Does technology have an impact on the Church’s mission or is it just a supply for its tasks?

Technology, above all, has a missionary character, because through it we have an infinitely greater reach for the proclamation of the Gospel. With the help of technology we are able to put ourselves in an “exit” attitude to the “ends of the earth”, to go to meet those who do not have the opportunity to receive the words of life implied by the evangelizing message wherever they are. We use technology as a wonderful mission tool.

In fact, all communication technology not only facilitates, but also allows that mission proper to the church to be lived in a more effective and creative way, but above all closer to each human being accompanying him at every moment of his life. This is how we can reach those who live in the territorial and existential peripheries that we could not otherwise reach. I like to think of technology as the extension of the mouth, of the legs, of the Pope’s hands, to embrace and bless every person around the world.

A few months after assuming the post of successor of Peter, the pope promoted a reform of the Roman Curia to better respond to the mission. Also to carry out a more fruitful pastoral management and a more effective and transparent church government. This reform has meant for the Holy See a major organizational restructuring in which the criteria provided by the encyclical Laudato Si’ have been a permanent reference, especially in our Dicastery for communication.

What we have done here was to rethink our use and application of technology in a way that is aligned with Laudato Si’, so that everything is more sustainable. This means, at the same time, that we are fulfilling our main task, which is to increase the missionary dimension of the Church, by encouraging once more our attitude of “Output” standing to go to the encounter of each person in need of the Mercy and Tenderness of God.

In what kind of facts can we see that these criteria were applied in the reform?

In many ways… in particular, I would like to highlight two of them: better use of energy and concern for workers. When we implement the system of hyper-convergence with the Technological Direction of the Dicastery for the Communication of the Holy see to integrate the computerized management of the communications of the vatican, not only that we intend to offer a service of optimum quality, but that, along with this, we seek a balance between strengthening our human capital and the adecuamiento of the system to the new culture in which we live, the optimisation of resources and a considerable reduction of the environmental impact.

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