Category Archives: Vatican News

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

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

Bishop Ayuso: ‘Abu Dhabi Document roadmap for interreligious dialogue’

Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United Arab Emirates is being widely seen as a milestone in interreligious dialogue.

Pope Francis visits UAE  (ANSA)

Vatican – Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, told Vatican News that the Abu Dhabi document signed by the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Ahzar, is a precious roadmap for peace, and contains indications that must be spread throughout the world.

Bishop Ayuso describes the Pope’s journey to the Gulf Region as historical.

He says Pope Francis was a true “peacemaker” in this journey to the Arab Emirates, and that the signing of the “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” Document, together with the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, calls on each of us to become instruments of much needed inter-religious dialogue and peace. 

This document, he says, has its roots in the necessity to safeguard the future of mankind and of the world and is particularly poignant in the face of “a wounded humanity”.

As Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Bishop Ayuso issues an appeal to make the text of the Declaration known, through the will of Pope Francis, to all men and women of good will also through social media, describing it as “road map of interreligious dialogue for the future”.

“Because universal fraternity is key” he says “so that through a culture of dialogue, joint collaboration and mutual knowledge may be the pillars for building a better world”. – Linda Bordoni,07Feb2019

Pope says UAE trip was ‘new page’ in dialogue between Christians, Muslims

Pope Francis at the general audience Feb. 6, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City – Pope Francis said Wednesday that his recent trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was a step forward in Catholic-Muslim dialogue and promoting peace among religions.

Though a brief visit, the “scattered seeds” of the Feb. 3-5 trip will bear fruit according to God’s will, he said during the general audience Feb. 6.

The visit to the UAE, and second meeting with the Muslim Grand Imam of al-Azhar, “wrote a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human brotherhood.”

Pope Francis first met the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, during a 2017 apostolic visit to Egypt. The two signed a joint document on human fraternity Feb. 4.

In the document, “we condemn all forms of violence, especially those with religious motivation, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values and peace throughout the world,” the pope stated.

In this era, he said, when there is strong a temptation to discord between Christian and Islamic cultures, and considering religions as sources of conflict, “we wanted to give a further, clear and decisive sign, that instead it is possible to meet, it is possible to respect and dialogue.”

He added that he recommends people read the document and try to understand it, because it has helpful points for how to carry out a dialogue on human fraternity.

“Despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of young people, and still other things,” he said.

Francis’ trip to the UAE, the first of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula, also fell 800 years after St. Francis of Assisi visited the Sultan Malik al Kamil in Egypt. Pope Francis said it was “Providence” that a pope named Francis made the historic trip on the 800th anniversary of the saint’s visit.

“I often thought of Saint Francis during this journey: he helped me to keep the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, while I was living the various moments of the visit,” he said.

“In my heart there was the Gospel of Christ,” he said, “the prayer to the Father for all his children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustice, wars, misery; prayer because the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a decisive factor for peace in today’s world.”

During the audience, Francis also recalled his meetings with two 90-year-old priests who have both served in the UAE for many years. One, he said, is now blind and in a wheelchair, but a smile never left his lips. “The smile of having served the Lord and done very good.”

Another highlight of the trip, he pointed out, was the Mass he celebrated in the stadium in Abu Dhabi Feb. 5, which was attended by around 150,000 people. “There were so many people!” he said. “We prayed in a special way for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen.” – Hannah Brockhaus, 6Feb2019 (CNA/EWTN News)

Message of Asian bishops’ president for World Day of the Sick 2019

Cardinal Charles Bo of Myanmar, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), has issued a message for the special celebration of World Day of the Sick in Kolkata, the city of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Mother Teresa of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). 

The Asian bishops’ president is urging believers in the continent to continue upholding the sacred duty and tradition of caring and respecting the elderly, the infirm and the helpless, saying it is a barometer of society’s health. 

Cardinal Charles Bo, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), made the exhortation in a message he released on Sunday in view of the upcoming international celebration of the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Sick.

The annual day was instituted by St. John Paul II on 13 May 1992, designating its celebration to the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11 each year.   The purpose is to draw attention to the sick and their caregivers and the redemptive act of human suffering.

Kolkata – city of Mother Teresa

Each year, the day is marked in a special way in a place chosen by the Pope who issues a message for the occasion.   The 27th World Day of the Sick will be celebrated in the eastern Indian city of  Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), the city of St. Mother Teresa

In his message for this year’s observance, Pope Francis urges believers to promote a culture of generosity, noting that the joy of generous giving is a barometer of the health of a Christian.

The theme of this year’s World Day of the Sick has as its theme, “You received without payment; give without payment”. (Mt 10:8).

Recalling Kolkata as the “karma bhumi” (workplace) of St.Teresa of Calcutta, Card. Bo says that this year’s theme was the mantra that Jesus gave His disciples “before sending them forth to spread the good news of the kingdom of God.”

Caring for sick, infirm – a sacred duty

“Allow me to remind myself and encourage all believers to uphold the traditional values embedded in the psyche of our varied ethnic groups in this vast Asian continent which considers caring for the elderly and infirm as a sacred duty of respect and devotion,” explains the cardinal, the Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar. 

“Our traditional customs of reaching out in solidarity to those in need especially those who are sick, helpless or fall victims to accidents of calamitous emergencies,” he says, “must continue to be embraced as a culture of generosity – a barometer denoting societal health.”

Card. Bo, who assumed his leadership of the FABC on Jan. 1, holds Mary as a model, saying she set out to be at the side of her cousin Elizabeth in her hour of need.  He wishes that she be an inspiration and example to us “to reach out as visible signs of God’s love for the poor and the sick.”

He wishes that Mother Teresa, who showed what it means “give till it hurts”, also be an inspiration and model in giving our time and talents in caring for the sick. 

The 70-year old cardinal expressed his gratitude and encouragement to volunteers and associations who help the sick, and all those organize campaigns for blood, tissue and organ donation.

Pope Francis on Dec. 11 appointed Bangladeshi Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario as his envoy to the special celebration of the World Day of the Sick in Kolkata. 

This year’s World Day of the Sick will be a 3-day event, starting in Kolkata on February 9 and will culminate on February 11 at the historical Marian Shrine at Bandel on the banks of the Hooghly River some 60 kms north of Kolkata.

The first World Day of the Sick was marked in 1993 at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France, one of the world’s most famous Marian shrines.  Since then, the day has been observed all over the world with a special celebration in a particular place each year. 

According to Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, that organizes the World Day of the Sick, Kolkata was chosen as a venue mainly “in light of the experience of St. Teresa of Calcutta”.

This is only the second time a place in India has been chosen.  The first was Vailankanni in 2003. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News, 27Jan2019

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