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New 'Dictatorship' Threatens Future, Bishop Says

7/14/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

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"Culture of Technology Must Place Duty Over Rights"

ROME, JULY 14, 2006 (Zenit) - Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, raised the alarm in face of a technology that regards man as a being who can be easily manipulated.

Bishop Crepaldi had the opportunity to explain -- from the point of view of the social teaching of the Church -- the role of humanity in relation to the "technical nakedness," out of which nihilism expresses itself.

He did so last Friday, at the end of the summer refresher course organized by the Faculty of Bioethics of Rome's Regina Apostolorum university on the topic "'Technify' Man or Humanize Technology? The Future of Bioethics."

The prelate referred to the temptation to manipulate embryos, warning that the main danger for society and culture is the "'technification' of spheres of life that, so considered, instead of being governed by man elude him to the point that his power is transformed into impotence."

Omnipotence

According to the dicastery's secretary, "the dream of Prometheus or, to be closer in time, of Francis Bacon, wanting to place in man's hands the secret of omnipotence, in fact, leaves those hands bare, handing man over to technology which becomes the anonymous nakedness of mere action."

Taking up what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his work "Introduction to Christianity," the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace recalled that positivism, according to which "what one knows how to do can also be done" results in the "dictatorship of technology."

And the "dictatorship of relativism" takes the form of the nakedness of technology "in thinking that the being of things consists in visibility and feasibility." Thus, "nihilism, which in the past expressed itself through destructive ideologies, now expresses itself through pure technology."

Bishop Crepaldi noted that "faith can defeat the nihilism of technology by being an expression of the Intelligence of the Principle, recovering in this way a focus and role for itself and also for human reason."

After recalling the renewed condemnation of the "technification" of human procreation contained in the study "Family and Human Procreation" -- published by the Pontifical Council for the Family on May 13, 2006 -- the dicastery's secretary demonstrated that mere "technification" reduces the dimension of the human person in the fields of politics, finance, culture, development and human rights.

"The exasperated "technification" of these realms of life runs the risk of producing yet another deplorable anti-technical attitude, before which the Magisterium of the Church also puts us on guard."

Culture of receiving

Given the picture painted, Bishop Crepaldi spoke of "the need to re-launch the Christian doctrine of creation as the starting point of a culture of receiving rather than of doing."

"A new culture of technology must therefore recover the priority of duty over right, and to this end a vision of nature might be decisive, both of the cosmos as of human nature, understood as 'creation,' in other words, something to assume as a task and not to produce with technology," said Bishop Crepaldi.

Recalling John Paul II's words in the Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, "nature understood as creation is a vocation." Bishop Crepaldi added that "things are not just things, but also the meanings that link them among themselves."

"For man this order becomes normative in the moral sense. On one hand, nature is a 'gift' and on the other it is a 'design' which has been entrusted to man so that he will collaborate in its realization."

"Denial of God deprives the person of his foundation and, consequently, induces him to reorganize the social order dispensing with the dignity and responsibility of the person," whereas "the nihilism of technology proposes to man to build himself as 'product,'" he continued.

"Technology, considered in the nakedness of being mere manipulation, can consume existence in the moment of acting; it can in this way conceal the human presence that transforms man in a 'mass,' in a bureaucratic society that, according to Hannah Arendt, is the 'government of no one.'"

"On the contrary," he concluded, the mass "can reclaim its meaning and rescue its nakedness if it agrees to belong to the realm of acting starting from a received meaning."

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Keywords

Culture, Rights, Justice, Peace, Crepaldi, Bioethics

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