Youth synod bishop: The world is rich in technology & poor in principles

Courtney Grogan

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Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 4. Credit: Polish Bishops Conference

A Polish archbishop participating in the Vatican synod on youth said Thursday that today’s young people have benefited from technological progress, but face a world that is “poorer in principles.” Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznan discussed technology and ethics during his homily at an Oct.4 Mass celebrated at the tomb of St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Polish archbishop is a participating in the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops convoked to discuss young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.“ Through the scientific and technical progress, man’s world has been enriched,” Gądecki said. “We are discovering more and more roads that we could take, but we lack signposts.” “The call for principles is not popular in the present world, which is marked by the crisis of faith and reason,” he continued. Gądecki stressed that “the postmodern world rejects all objectivity, stability, normativity, as well as normality.” “The question of man’s identity and the reference to objective norms and principles have become irrelevant and unnecessary,” he continued, “In lieu and place of them, a cult of human autonomy has appeared that is so absolute that it leads to the annihilation of other human beings.” “This new synod reminds us of the need to pray for all the world’s young, to whom the synod now beginning is dedicated,” added Gądecki, who is president of the Polish bishops’ conference and a Synod father. Gądecki’s homily in St. Peter’s Basilica echoed ideas about young people’s use of technology from the Vatican’s pre-synod document published in March. “Technology can be detrimental to human dignity if not used with conscience and caution and if human dignity is not at the center of its usage,” that document says, making particular reference to the fields of bioethics and artificial intelligence. 

The pre-synod document also warns against the “isolation, laziness, desolation and boredom” that can come from young people’s obsessive consumption of media, in addition to the long-term risks of a “loss of creativity” and concentration. “While technology has, for some, augmented our relationships, for many others it has taken the form of an addiction, becoming a replacement for human relationship and even God.” “Digital spaces blind us to the vulnerability of another human being and prevent us from our own self-reflection. Problems like pornography distort a young person’s perception of human sexuality. Technology used this way creates a delusional parallel reality that ignores human dignity,” it continues.“ The Church should address the widespread crisis of pornography, including online child abuse, as well as cyber-bullying and the toll these take on our humanity,” the pre-synod document concludes. It also acknowledged that the Church can benefit from the depth of understanding that young people can offer the church to assist in discerning its usage, noting that “the Church should view technology – particularly the internet – as a fertile place for the New Evangelization.”

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