Tackling "the dark side of digital progress".

The Declaration "Dignitas Infinita" of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith points out "the dark side" of digital progress. Pope Francis encourages Catholics to confront this threat through an anthropological conversion.

May 30, 2024-Reading time: 2 minutes

A person holds a cell phone (Unsplash / Rodion Kutsaiev).

The Declaration "Dignitas infinitaAfter recalling the theological foundations of human dignity, he focuses on some of its serious violations, such as sexual abuse, the "human rights violations of human dignity," and the "human rights violations of human dignity. abortionSurrogate motherhood, euthanasia and assisted suicide, gender theory, sex change...

The Magisterium has already pronounced itself on these issues on several occasions, so the Declaration limits itself to summarizing these teachings. The last of the violations of human dignity examined is probably the one in which the Vatican document enters a terrain still little explored from a moral point of view: the digital world.

It illustrates the dangers inherent in the progress of digital technologies, progress that tends to "create a world in which exploitation, exclusion and violence grow", trends that "represent the dark side of digital progress". Mention is made of the easy dissemination of false news and slander, the risk "of dependence, isolation and progressive loss of contact with concrete reality", aspects that hinder the development of authentic interpersonal relationships, and also cyber-bullying, the spread of pornography and gambling.

It is pointed out that, as "the possibilities of connection grow, it is paradoxically the case that everyone is in fact increasingly isolated and impoverished in interpersonal relationships".

A change of era

In his address to the Roman Curia in December 2019, Pope Francis began by saying: "We are not simply living in a time of change, but in a change of epoch. We are therefore in one of those moments in which changes are no longer linear, but of profound transformation; they constitute choices that rapidly transform the way of living, of interacting, of communicating and elaborating thought, of relating among human generations, and of understanding and living faith and science."

A change of era that is essentially promoted by the digital revolution, which already affects all aspects of our lives and which obviously also constitutes a great challenge for the Church.

Human dignity in digital progress

Faced with the many negative consequences of this revolution or - in the words of the document - "the dark side of digital progress" (n. 61), there is often a tendency to seek disciplinary solutions, banning or controlling the use of the Internet or digital media. This may certainly be appropriate and necessary to protect children in particular, but it certainly does not solve many problems.

In this sense, the exhortation of the document is important when it addresses the human community, encouraging it to "be proactive in addressing these trends with respect for human dignity. In our globalized world, the new digital technologies have opened up many possibilities both for evangelization and - on the human level - for us "to feel closer to one another, to perceive a renewed sense of unity of the human family that impels us to solidarity and serious commitment to a more dignified life for all".

Faced with all this, the Pope, in the above-mentioned address to the Roman Curia, exhorted us to "allow ourselves to be challenged by the challenges of the present time and to grasp them with the virtues of discernment... starting from the very center of man, with an anthropological conversion". These are far-reaching intuitions, even if they certainly require further deepening, concreteness and a renewed commitment on the part of both society and the Church, in order to proactively confront the dangers inherent in the new era.

The authorArturo Cattaneo

Priest. He has taught Canon Law in Venice and Theology in Lugano and is the author of several publications in the areas of Ecclesiology, Canon Law and pastoral care of marriage.

Read more
La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.