Laudato Si #102-105
I. TECHNOLOGY: CREATIVITY AND POWER
102. Humanity has entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads. We are the beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous waves of change: steam engines, railways, the telegraph, electricity, automobiles, aeroplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine, information technology and, more recently, the 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, for “science and technology are wonderful products of a God-given human creativity”. The modification of nature for useful purposes has distinguished the human family from the beginning; technology itself “expresses the inner tension that impels man gradually to overcome material limitations”. Technology has remedied countless evils which used to harm and limit human beings. How can we not feel gratitude and appreciation for this progress, especially in the fields of medicine, engineering and communications? How could we not acknowledge the work of many scientists and engineers who have provided alternatives to make development sustainable?
103. Technoscience, when well directed, can produce important means of improving the quality of human life, from useful domestic appliances to great transportation systems, bridges, buildings and public spaces. It can also produce art and enable men and women immersed in the material world to “leap” into the world of beauty. Who can deny the beauty of an aircraft or a skyscraper? Valuable works of art and music now make use of new technologies. So, in the beauty intended by the one who uses new technical instruments and in the contemplation of such beauty, a quantum leap occurs, resulting in a fulfilment which is uniquely human.
104. Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. 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 but think of the 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, to say nothing of the increasingly deadly arsenal of weapons available for modern warfare. In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it.
105. There is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means “an increase of ‘progress’ itself”, an advance in “security, usefulness, welfare and vigour; …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 that “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. Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations. It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us. “The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should”; in effect, “power is never considered in terms of the responsibility of choice which is inherent in freedom” since its “only norms are taken from alleged necessity, from either utility or security”. But human beings are not completely autonomous. Our freedom fades when it is handed over to the blind forces of the unconscious, of immediate needs, of self-interest, and of violence. In this sense, 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 clear-minded self-restraint.
In this first section of Chapter 3, “Technology: Creativity and Power,” Pope Francis notes that we have “entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads.” What is that crossroads?
We have benefited from amazing technological advances in medicine, communications, transportation, etc. These are exciting times. (102)
“Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, … and many other abilities … have given us tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world (104).” Nothing ensures that this power will be used wisely. Pope Francis gives examples. Do you recall examples of the unwise use or the misuse of power?
“Our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience (105).” We do not fully understand what we have gotten ourselves into. We are blinded by self-interest, unconscious drives, violence. “We stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it (105).”
We stand at a crossroads: immense power and the limited capacity to apply it wisely. What do we need to do to address this?
Just as we need to educate ourselves about the governance of our congregation and of our countries and be part of the dialogue around decision making, so too we need to educate ourselves about the implications of technological advances. How do they impact human dignity? How do they impact our planet?
Addressing Climate Change
The Addressing Climate Change Committee received much feedback after the presentation by
Sr. Mary Maher. We thank you for taking the time to respond to our survey. A common theme we heard was an interest in learning more about Ecospirituality. We wanted to share two on-line opportunities to explore Ecospirituality, both offered by the Mercy Ecospirituality Center of Mercy Ecology, Inc. One of the Presenters is Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP, who formerly served as the AM JPIC Director. There is fee of $15.00 (USD) for each program.
As stated in their Focus, “Mercy Ecospirituality Center of Mercy Ecology, Inc. is a sponsored work of the Sisters of Mercy. We are committed to reflection, education and living gently in mutual relationship with the Earth. We offer hospitality for those seeking solace and to refresh their spirit in the beauty of creation, as well as programs in ecospirituality.”
A Winter’s Respite
Journey to the Heart: Falling in Love with Earth
Presented by Sharon Zayac OP
February 21, 2023 4:15 - 5:15 pm (EST)
As we witness the on-going chaos of our planetary home, there arises within us a deeper and more urgent longing for connection, with others, with the greater Earth community. Some claim we need to turn to an eco-spirituality, one that recognizes our role in that community. More and more of us recognize that, rather than learning eco-spirituality, it is instead allowing it to resurface within us and to reclaim us. Journey to the Heart invites you to do just that.
Register at https://www.mercyecology.org/programs
The Fire We Carry: God’s Love and the Evolutionary Journey
Presented by Arlene Flaherty OP
February 28, 2023 4:15 – 5:15 pm (EST)
In the Great Flaring Forth over 13.7 billion years ago, the Creator’s love seeded the universe with love. Over 2,000 years ago, a Second Flaring Forth emerged in Jesus of Nazareth. Through his life and work, he illuminated how love, the fire we carry, brings about healing, conversion, new consciousness, and abundant life for all.
How might our loving and living as followers of Jesus, bring about another Flaring Forth? What impact can this have for a vulnerable Earth and her community of life today?
Register at https://www.mercyecology.org/programs
Ending Human Trafficking
As we end National Human Trafficking Month in the USA, we remember that approximately 80% of human trafficking today involves sexual exploitation and 19% is labor exploitation, according to the UN 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons estimates are that 20 to 40 million people are enslaved in the world.
Human trafficking takes many forms. Here is one example that made headlines prior to the Christmas holidays in the USA.
Federal authorities issued a national public safety alert concerning children being coerced into sending explicit images online and then extorted for money (sextortion). At least 3,000 victims had been identified with more than a dozen suicides. Federal officials reported that in the first six months of 2022 there was a 1,000% increase from the same period last year. The FBI, along with other agencies, urged parents to be watchful as children were expected to spend more time online over the holiday season. However, online trafficking occurs every day of the year. One of the best ways to address this horrific crime is for parents to teach their children about trafficking and monitor children’s online activities.
Information, resources and helplines are available
• Sextortion - FBI website, USA
• Sextortion emails: how to protect yourself - National Cyber Security Centre, UK,
• Online Dangers: Sexting and Sextortion - Government of Canada.
• Unitas - an international humanitarian organization founded in 2015 to identify solutions to fight human trafficking
A short prayer - Loving God - We pray for wisdom for parents and teachers as they educate and oversee the online activity of our children; may they have the foresight and attention to protect our youth. Amen
Promoting Justice for Immigrants
There is much in the news and social media these days about Title 42. But what is Title 42? Why are so many religious and lay organizations opposed to its use at this time?
Title 42 is a code established by the US government in 1944, which grants federal authorities the power to prevent people and products from entering the country to limit the spread of a communicable disease.
Because of the COVID pandemic, in March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invoked their authority under this title to allow border agents to rapidly send migrants crossing the US-Mexico border back to Mexico or other countries instead of permitting them to seek asylum within the US, as had long been the policy before the pandemic and was in accord with international and US immigration policy.
The CDC issued an order to terminate this policy by May 23, 2022, but because of legal battles it is still in effect.
Read more about Title 42:
• “U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Addresses Termination of Title 42,” US Catholic Bishops
• “Supreme Court keeps Title 42 restriction on border entry in place for now,” National Catholic Reporter
Catholic Social Teaching maintains these three basic principles on migration: people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families; a country has the right to regulate its borders and to control migration; and a country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy. [source: USCCB; see also CCCB]
Wes Moore became Maryland's 63rd governor on Wednesday, January 18 when he was sworn into office at the State House in Annapolis. He is Maryland's first black governor and the third black person in U.S. history to serve as a state governor. He took his oath on a Bible owned by Frederick Douglass, who after escaping slavery in Maryland, became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York.
Aruna Miller also made history Wednesday when she became the first woman of color to serve as Maryland's lieutenant governor. She is also the first South Asian woman to hold the position in any state. Read more.
Sustainable Development in Haiti
Haiti faces turmoil without any democratically elected officials
As reported in NPR recently, Haiti is facing its most devastating challenge in recent decades. The terms of the remaining elected senators have ended while the small nation of 150,000 is struggling with gang violence and a cholera outbreak. Currently, Haiti does not have an elected President since Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in 2021. And, the constitutionally mandated appointment of Prime Minister Ariel Henry ended more than a year ago. There has not been a national election since 2016. In addition to gang violence and the outbreak of cholera, Haiti has had to deal with the pandemic and two natural disasters: an earthquake in 2021 and a category 5 hurricane in 2016.
Speaking to NPR last fall, Patrice Dumont, one of the senators who departed office this month, said rampant corruption had kept Haiti from making progress. "The situation that we are facing now, it's made because of the bad choices made by Haitian actors, Haitian political leaders," Dumont said.
Read the article in its entirety here,