Tag Archives: 2019-02

Pope: Machines are useful but they do not think

Francis receives the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, meeting in plenary to discuss “Roboethics. People, machines and health “. Technology is useful if at the service of man, machines are used for the development of society and the planet “.

Vatican City – Artificial devices that simulate human capabilities “are inextricably devoid of human quality. It must be taken into account to guide the regulation of their use, and the research itself, towards a constructive and equitable interaction between human beings and the latest versions of machines. In fact, they spread in our world and radically transform the scenario of our existence. If we can also put these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of the new discoveries will radiate their benefits on each person and on the whole of humanity,” said Pope Francis this morning.

He was receiving the participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life which is celebrated this year on the 25th anniversary of his birth. The pontiff opened his speech by thanking the presidents and the members of the Academy who – in these first 25 years – have carried out a “competent service” with “generous commitment” for the protection and promotion of human life. Immediately after, Francesco addressed the plenary topic: “Roboethics. People, machines and health”.

The Pope noted: “We live in a world full of contrasts, and we see a dramatic paradox: just when humanity possesses the scientific and technical capacities to achieve a fairly widespread well-being, according to God’s mandate, we observe instead an exacerbation of conflicts. and a growth in inequality. The enlightenment myth of progress is dwindling and the accumulation of the potential that science and technology have provided us do not always give the desired results. In fact, on the one hand, technological development has allowed us to solve problems that were insurmountable until a few years ago, and we are grateful to the researchers who have achieved these results; on the other hand, difficulties and threats are sometimes more insidious than the previous ones “.

The “being able to do”, he adds, “risks obscuring the person doing it. The technocratic system based on the criterion of efficiency does not respond to the most profound questions that man poses; and if on the one hand it is not possible to do without its resources, on the other it imposes its logic on those who use them. Yet the technique is characteristic of the human being. It should not be understood as a force that is alien and hostile to it, but as a product of its ingenuity through which it provides for the needs of living for oneself and for others. It is therefore a specifically human way of inhabiting the world “.

But this brings with it a serious problem: “Instead of delivering the tools that improve their care to human life, there is the risk of giving life to the logic of the devices that decide its value. This overturning is destined to produce nefarious outcomes: the machine is not limited to driving alone, but ends up guiding man. Human reason is thus reduced to an alienated rationality of effects, which cannot be considered worthy of man “.

After denouncing the serious damage to the environment created by a mad rush to innovation, Francis recalled the message he sent to the Davos Forum in January 2018: “Artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological innovations must be used to serve humanity and to protect our common home instead of the exact opposite, as unfortunately they provide some estimates. The inherent dignity of every human being must be firmly placed at the center of our reflection and action “.

The Pope noted that there is a very real risk “that man is being technologized, rather than technology humanized: so-called ‘intelligent machines’ are hastily attributed skills that are properly human. We need to understand better what the intelligence, the conscience, the emotionality, the affective intentionality and the autonomy of moral action mean in this context. In fact, artificial devices that simulate human capabilities are devoid of human quality. It must be taken into account to guide the regulation of their use, and the research itself, towards a constructive and equitable interaction between human beings and the latest versions of machines. In fact, they spread in our world and radically transform the scenario of our existence. If we can also put these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of the new discoveries will radiate their benefits on each person and on the whole of humanity “. – AsiaNews

A robot that does homework sparks controversy in China

The case of a student in Harbin who used a device to copy texts hundreds of times sparks controversy. The issue has been read 13 million times in social media in a country caught between innovation and tradition.

Beijing – The case of a Chinese schoolgirl buying a so-called copying robot to write her homework has got many social media users chattering.

The girl, anonymous for privacy reasons, bought a device that perfectly copies a person’s writing. This enabled her to avoid copying herself.

Copying text hundreds of time is common practice and is considered essential to memorise the classics and improve spelling.

The girl’s mother, surnamed Zhang, was angered by her daughter’s trick and smashed the machine. “It can help you with homework, but can it help you on tests?” she was quoted as saying.

The issue made its way onto social media where users are divided. Some view the use of the device as legitimate, whilst others see it as a scam.

On Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, the topic was read over 13 million times by 19 February.

One user, using the online alias Rain, said that she was a teacher and had been using the machine for over a year.

She explained that she had spent a week writing thousands of characters to create her own font, and added that nobody could tell the difference between what the robot wrote and her own work. – AsiaNews/Agencies, 02/25/2019

Pope’s Lenten Message calls for conversion

In his message for Lent, Pope Francis warns that once God’s law is forsaken, the law of the strong over the weak takes over.

Vatican – Pope Francis is calling on the faithful not to let the Lenten season of grace pass in vain, and to live as children of God acknowledging and obeying His law, in particular in regards to our brothers and sisters and to creation.

In this year’s Lenten message, the Pope invites believers to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed, warning that “Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests”.

The Pope’s Lenten message was released on Tuesday during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office. The theme chosen this year is “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 6 March, and will conclude on Holy Saturday, 20 April, the day before Easter.  

“Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them”.

This is one of the key passages of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2019. Reflecting on a verse from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Pope highlights how the season before Easter must be a time to “welcome Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives”, and attract “its transforming power to all of creation”

Fasting, prayer, almsgiving

Appealing to the faithful to not allow this season of grace to pass in vain, Pope Francis says that if, “the Lent of the Son of God ‘was an entry into the desert of creation to make it become again that garden of communion with God” that it was before the original sin, Christians today are invited “to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.”

Fasting, the Pope says, means turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity; Prayer teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego; Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.

If we follow this journey, he said it “is possible to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness”.

Conversion

The path to Easter, therefore, demands that “we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness” the Pope said pointing out that it is a call that involves the whole of creation.

This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, Pope Francis says, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails. Linda Bordoni

Religious Vocation Awareness Seminar 2019

Purak, PAPAR – A total of 162 participants (62 males and 100 females),  from various parishes in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Diocese of Keningau  and even as far as from the neighbouring country Brunei attended the vocation Seminar held from 15 – 17 Feb 2019 at Pace Bene retreat Centre. This vocation Seminar was jointly organized by the Council of Religious (COR) in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu which is currently headed by Br.Thomas Paul, SG. 

According to Fr. Valentine Gompok (OFM Cap), one of the members of the organizing committee, the Council of Religious (COR), initiated this joint vocation Seminar 10 years ago as a way of collaboration among the various congregations serving in the archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu for vocation promotion. Five years later the COR extended an invitation to other congregations from other dioceses within Malaysia to come and participate in the Seminar. And for the first time this year, the Order of the Pious School (Piarist) (Sch.P) Philippines secured permission from the Archbishop to participate.

This yearly vocation seminar is intended to be an eye opener and give a kind of exposure to the youths of the various religious congregations presently serving in the archdiocese as well as other dioceses within Malaysia or even outside Malaysia. 

Six women religious congregations and eight male religious orders were present to showcase or share with the participants about their respective Charism and Mission: the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC), Good Shepherd  Sisters (RGS), Daughters of St. Paul (FSP), Franciscan Missionary of Mary (FMM) Sisters from Petaling Jaya & Singapore, Sisters of the Divine Saviour (SDS) or Salvatorian, based in Melaka Johor Diocese, De La Salle Brothers (FSC), Brothers of St. Gabriel (SG), Marist Brothers of the School (FMS), Clerical Society of the Most Holy Trinity of Mirinae (SST), Order of Franciscan Friar Minor (OFM), Order of Franciscan Friar Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap), Order of the Pious School (Piarist) (Sch.P) and Society of Jesus also known as the Jesuits (SJ). And though not physically present, the Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns (OCD) was with the team spiritually. A presentation on their Congregation’s Charism and Mission was done by Sr.Bibianah,fsp on their behalf.

The seminar started with the registration, followed by opening Mass, concelebrated by 6 priests from various orders. After dinner there were ice-breaker activities and then the logistic and safety briefing before the night prayer.

A talk on religious Vocation was given by Fr. Valentine, OFMCap, on the Second day. He explained to the participants about the importance of prayers in religious life and the 3 vows which they profess. A topic on Discernment and some practical and helpful examples on how to discern their religious vocation was also given by Br.Egbertus Jaikol, FSC.

Due to the large number of participants, the organizing committee decided to divide the afternoon session on the second day into male and female categories. During this time, the various religious congregations accordingly took turns to present their respective charism and mission to the participants. On Sunday, another talk on Spiritual life was given by Fr. Raphael, OFMCap. He highlighted our connectedness with God in Spirit as we have been created in His image and likeness.

For the duration of the seminar, the schedule was arranged in such a way that the participants shared responsibility to clean the refectory and wash plates after each meal.  There was time for group dynamics, praise and worship, personal and community prayer, an hour of adoration, as well as allotted time for spiritual direction.  Before the Seminar ended a piece of paper with the list of the various congregations were distributed to the candidates and each candidate was encouraged to put a check on a particular congregation which they would like to know more and the next day return the filled up form to the congregation concerned. This way will be helpful to follow up the candidate and assist them to make further discernment in their vocation.

Jordan Juhakim from Stella Maris Parish, was grateful for having participated in the vocation Seminar. He came to understand better the life of religious priests, brothers and sisters. He said that he encountered various challenges on his way to Purak. He took a train to Papar and he lost his way. From the train station he had to walk for 2 hours 45 minutes to reach Purak. Notwithstanding the challenges along the way, it didn’t dampen his Spirit. Instead he learned patience and perseverance amidst challenges and he realized that Jesus is truly the way and the Truth and the life.

Likewise, Mary Kasmih from St. Peter Claver Church, Ranau, a first time participant expressed her joy and contentment for the opportunity to join in the Seminar. All the sessions had given her better understanding about religious life and she also learned many things from the various congregations.

After the closing Eucharistic celebration, Br.Thomas, SG, in his concluding speech thanked all the Franciscan Sisters, the staff and management of Pace Bene under the Supervision of Sr. Juliana, the superior of the Retreat Centre, who allowed the religious and participants to occupy the place for the weekend seminar free of charge. He also thanked all the various congregations as well as the participants of the vocation seminar from far and near who contributed to the success of the Seminar. It was surely a memorable moment for all especially those who participated in the Vocation Seminar for the first time. – kkdiocese.net

World day of Consecrated Life in KK Archdiocese

KOTA KINABALU – In union with all the religious men and women throughout the world, the various religious congregations in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu gathered together on 2nd February 2019 at St. Paul’s Hill Chapel at Montfort, Kinarut to mark the 23rd world day of Consecrated life on the feast of the Lord’s Presentation. The World day of Consecrated life was first mooted by the late Saint Pope John Paul II in 1997. It was intended to help the entire Church to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ by means of the practice of the evangelical counsels. At the same time, it is intended to be a suitable occasion for consecrated persons to renew their commitment and rekindle the fervour which should inspire their offering of themselves to the Lord.

In the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, this is only the 12th year that we are celebrating the World day of consecrated life together as a religious body. It was initiated by the Council of religious (COR) in 2007 which was then headed by Br. Francis Chua, SG. As in the past years, the celebration this time was preceded by the triduum of holy hours in the evenings:  at the Carmelite Chapel on 30th January animated by the Marist and the La Salle Brothers, Stella Maris adoration chapel on 31st January animated by the Franciscan Sisters and at St. Michael’s Church Penampang on 01st February animated by the Good Shepherd Sisters and the Daughters of St. Paul. According to Br. Thomas Paul, the present chairperson of the Council of religious in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, it was a kind of a pilgrimage to prepare our hearts for the actual celebration of the World day of Consecrated Life.

More than 100 religious from various congregations and secular institutes turned up for the celebration: Montfort Brothers (SG), La Salle Brothers (FSC), Marist Brothers (FMS), Clerical Society of the Holy Trinity (SST), Good Shepherd Sisters (RGS), Franciscan Sisters (FSIC), Daughters of St. Paul (FSP), and the third order of Carmelite as representative of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns (OCD).

Quoting from the Pope’s writings, the Archbishop, in his homily explained in brief the meaning of the presentation of Jesus, also known as the feast of the Encounter, where Jesus came to meet His people for the first time in the temple represented by Simeon and Anna who had the faith to recognize Him as the Saviour of the world. He said, regardless of whether we are old or young, Jesus comes continually to present himself to us in our daily life. He wants to meet us daily especially in the celebration of the Eucharist and wants to establish a relationship, an encounter with each one of us.

The Archbishop then posed a question, have you met him personally? When and what was your first experience in your encounter with Jesus in your life? Did we recognize him as did Simeon and Anna? Did our hearts burn with fire when we encountered Him? He reminded us to keep the fire of the first experience burn bright in our lives so that we can shine the light of Christ in the world and so that others in turn may recognize Christ through us.

After the homily, the religious renewed their religious consecration together in the presence of the Archbishop who accepted their prayers of commitment.

The joyful atmosphere of the celebration was enhanced with the attendance of some friends and families who lived near the Montfort residential campus and also with the full support and attendance of more than 150 students and staff from the Montfort training centre. They sang very well during the Mass and some of the boys even helped as altar servers.

After the final blessings, the chairperson Br. Thomas, thanked the Archbishop for his willingness to grace the celebration. He also thanked the Montfort Management centre for their kindness in allowing the religious to make Montfort Youth Training Centre a venue for their gathering this year.

Archbishop John Wong, on the other hand also apologized on behalf of his priests who could not make it to be with the religious on this occasion due to the fact that it was Saturday and the priests are busy in their respective parishes. The Archbishop went on to express his gratitude and appreciation to all the religious for their dedication and contribution of services in their various charisms in building up the Kingdom of God in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu. He also assured the religious of his continual support and prayers for them in his daily recitation of the Holy Rosary.

As usual the celebration was not complete without fellowship. The festive lunch was graciously sponsored by the Montfort brothers.

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