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9 Reasons Why Pope Francis’ Encyclical Is Really About Technology

Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, is actually a reflection on technology. The human origins of what the Pope calls an “ecological crisis” are grounded in what he terms a “technocratic paradigm” that orders our earthly actions. There are reflections in this encyclical on every major advancement from the steam engine to social media. But those words have been drowned out by the “cries” of “Sister Earth.”

I thought it fitting then to summarize the Pope’s reflections 140 characters at a time. How better to describe his take on technology than to tweet them? While @Pontifex believes “social media and the digital world… can stop people from learning how to live wisely,” Twitter is nothing if not ironic.

Where Twitter ends is where this Pope’s apocalyptic sense kicks in. He believes that the train of human progress is barreling toward catastrophe and that only a truly pre-modern revolution can save us.

Pope Francis’ encyclical embodies a long-standing tension in our relationship with technology: We stand in awe of our creations, and yet worry they may prove hollow. We fear progress because we fear evil—and rightly so.

Yet we have been given a tremendous capacity to invent and create. And it is this creative capacity that allows us to leave our world better than we found it. Technology will be the birthright of modernity, so long as we don’t lose ourselves to the frailties of the human condition.