Franciscan Sister Kathleen continues study of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, Mi Signore which delves into the use of and dependence on technology.
“Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.” St. Francis’ song entreats us to sing praise, but to remember our humble place before the Almighty. As we continue to learn about Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si¢,Mi Signore, we are now called to humble ourselves in the face of what we have collectively done to our Mother Earth. Let us consider Chapter Three: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis.
This section of the encyclical is admittedly technical. Our Holy Father takes up the positive and negative influences of technology. He writes: “we stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clearminded self-restraint.”
Prize technical thought over reality?
He goes on to say that we prize technical thought over reality and take creation as mere raw material for our use. This attitude has far-reaching effects. We take up our place at the center of the universe and give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative.
The chapter continues to treat areas such as techno-science (involving the digital revolution, robotics, and biotechnologies) the technocratic paradigm (a world view that is controlled by technology) anthropocentrism (placement of humanity at the center of the universe), practical relativism (primacy is given to convenience and all else becomes relative), protection of employment (the human vocation to work) and biological technology (genetic manipulation).
The Holy Father expands his treatment of these topics showing some of the possible moral outcomes from such paths of action. He concludes, “When technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.”
This may be a moment in which we can evaluate our own use and dependence on technology. Do we place these conveniences above human and divine communication in dialogue and prayer? Who is at the center of your universe?