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Pope warns against dehumanizing tyranny of technocracy

Feb 29, 2024

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis on Saturday decried the many “dehumanizing trends” resulting from technocracy, impacting especially the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

In a speech to a group of Catholic legislators, on 26 August, he said the “dominant technocratic paradigm”, with its negative impact upon both human and natural ecology, raises profound questions about “the place of human beings and of human action in the world”.

The Pope was addressing participants in the fourteenth Annual Meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network (ICLN) taking place in Frascati, near Rome.

The ICLN is a non-profit organization established in 2010 to educate, empower and connect in fellowship a new generation of Christian leaders serving in a public office, regardless their political affiliation, by offering them spiritual and doctrinal formation and global networking opportunities. The network is also engaged in helping to build bridges between political leaders, nations, non-profit organizations and Churches in a crisis-ridden world.

Reflecting on the theme of the ICLN meeting this year, “Great Power Struggle, Corporate Capture and Technocracy: A Christian Answer to Dehumanizing Trends”, Pope Francis noted that one of the most concerning aspects of the modern “technocratic paradigm”, is its “subtle seduction of the human spirit, lulling people – and especially the young – into misusing their freedom”.

“We see this - he said - when men and women are encouraged to exercise control over, instead of responsible custodianship of material or economic ‘objects’, the natural resources of our common home, or even one another. Such objectification - the Pope remarked - can take place directly or indirectly, through daily choices that may seem neutral but ‘are in reality decisions about the kind of society we want to build (Laudato Si’, 107).’”.

Opposed to this “objectification” is connecting people, making them feel part of something larger than themselves, which is the central aim of ICLN.

Connecting is also the stated goal of many social media platforms. However, the Pope noted, “many dehumanizing trends resulting from technocracy are found on these media, such as the deliberate spread of false information, the promotion of hatred and division, and the reduction of human relationships to mere algorithms, not to mention a false sense of belonging, especially among young people, that can lead to isolation and loneliness”.

“This misuse of virtual encounter can only be overcome by the culture of authentic encounter, which involves a radical call to respect and to listen to one another, including those with whom we may strongly disagree,” Pope Francis stressed. “Here too your network can offer an example, for you seek to draw people from across the globe to encounter one another in this genuine way”.

The Pope went on to remark that networking is not only about gathering people together: “It is also for enabling them to cooperate in reaching a common objective.” Both these essential aspects underpin the work of the ICLN, and reflect the nature of the Church herself, “the People of God called to live in both communion and mission” to spread the Gospel. The Catholic network, the Pope said, is therefore already an answer to the “dehumanizing trends” of our technocratic societies.

“By remaining a genuinely international Catholic network, you will credibly demonstrate an alternative to that technocratic tyranny which lures our brothers and sisters into seizing the raw elements of both nature and human nature, and diminishes their capacity for making decisions or living genuinely free lives”

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging ICLN to continue its “efforts to form a new generation of well educated and faithful Catholics leaders committed to promoting the Church’s social and ethical teachings in the public sphere”.

“I pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire and guide your efforts to form a new generation of well educated and faithful Catholics leaders committed to promoting the Church’s social and ethical teachings in the public sphere. In this way, you will surely contribute to the building up of God’s kingdom.”