From the Winter 2010 issue:
From the text:
Caritas in veritate takes up the complicated question of technology in its last chapter. Benedict of course acknowledges that technology “enables us to exercise dominion over matter” and to “improve our conditions of life,” and in this way goes to “the heart of the vocation of human labor” (n. 69). The relevant point, however, is that “technology is never merely technology” (n. 69). It always invokes some sense of the order of man’s naturally given relations to God and others. Technology thus, rightly conceived, must be integrated into the call to holiness, indeed into the covenant with God, implied in this order of relations (cf. n. 69): integrated into the idea of creation as something first given to man, as gift, “not something self-generated” (n. 68) or produced by man.
Here again we see the importance of the family. It is inside the family that we first learn a “technology” that respects the dignity of the truly weak and vulnerable—the just-conceived and the terminally-ill, for example—for their own sake. It is inside the family, indeed the family as ordered to worship, that we first learn the habits of patient interiority necessary for genuine relationships: for the relations that enable us to see the truth, goodness, and beauty of others as given (and also to maintain awareness of “the human soul’s ontological depths, as probed by the saints”: n. 76). It is inside the family that we can thus learn the limits of the dominant social media of communication made available by technology, which promote surface movements of consciousness involving mostly the gathering of bits of information, and foster inattention to man in his depths and his transcendence as created by God. It is in the family that we first become open to the meaning of communication in its ultimate and deepest reality as a dia-logos of love that is fully revealed by God in the life, and thus including also the suffering, of Jesus Christ (cf. n. 4). Read the full article.
DAVID L. SCHINDLER (bio) is Provost and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.