Letter #4: The Pope to Davos

January 20, 2016, Wednesday — The Pope and Davos

In the face of profound and epochal changes, world leaders are challenged to ensure that the coming “fourth industrial revolution”, the result of robotics and scientific and technological innovations, does not lead to the destruction of the human person – to be replaced by a soulless machine – or to the transformation of our planet into an empty garden for the enjoyment of a chosen few.” —Pope Francis, in a letter to the World Economic Forum meeting now in Davos, Switzerland. The letter was signed three weeks ago, on December 30, 2015, but the text was just released in Rome today. This phrase seems to be a veiled criticism of certain possible negative consequences of the UN’s “Agenda 21” for a sustainable human future on this planet (link)

“Those pushing… government control on a global level have mastered the art of hiding it in plain sight and then just dismissing it as a joke. Once they put their fangs into our communities and suck all the blood out of it [sic], we will not be able to survive.”—Glenn Beck, an American writer and television personality; he was quoted in a 2014 Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report as making these remarks “in 2011 while waving a copy of the 294-page Agenda 21 document on his show” (link)

We must never allow the culture of prosperity to deaden us, to make us incapable of “feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and sensing the need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” (Evangelii Gaudium, 54).—Pope Francis, in the same letter to the Davos Forum released today

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The Pope and Davos

It’s a stark, frightening vision.

A vision, however, that, at least in part, is attractive to many.

It is a vision of a world which has reversed the large population increase we have experienced over the past two centuries, a world in which many populated areas have been restored to wilderness, untouched by things like roads and electric wires… unaffected by the life of human beings.

A much emptier world.

Such a less-populated world is attractive to many — at least in the abstract.

But what if we truly were to embrace a global agenda of strict population control which sought to eliminate human life in many natural habitats?

Might we not create a kind of nightmare for our children, and their children?

A nightmare we would regret?

Might not our planet risk becoming a largely depopulated “empty garden” exclusively for “the enjoyment of a chosen few”?

A truly chilling vision.

One that doesn’t seem possible, really, as an actual future that could become real.

And yet…

This dystopic vision isn’t one conjured up by a wild-eyed science fiction writer.

It is a vision that Pope Francis is warning us against.

The warning came today in a letter released in Rome.

The letter warning against the spectre of this chilling vision is addressed to some of the world’s most powerful leaders. These leaders are meeting in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, to discuss the “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” — the revolution we are now experiencing in computing, nanotechnology, robotics, communications…

The organizers of the meeting contacted Pope Francis and invited him to send a message to the meeting.

And he has done so.

The letter was signed on December 30, 2015; the text of the letter, in various translations, was released today in Rome.

The letter warns especially against a type of technological development that runs roughshod over poor and defenseless human beings.

One danger is the modern technology of robotics, which could eliminate millions of human jobs. The Pope warns that all technological development must keep in mind the need to “create dignified work for all.”

“The latest studies conducted by the International Labour Organization indicate that unemployment presently affects hundreds of millions of people,” the Pope writes. “The financialization and technologization of national and global economies have produced far-reaching changes in the field of labour. Diminished opportunities for useful and dignified employment, combined with a reduction in social security, are causing a disturbing rise in inequality and poverty in different countries. Clearly there is a need to create new models of doing business which, while promoting the development of advanced technologies, are also capable of using them to create dignified work for all, to uphold and consolidate social rights, and to protect the environment. Man must guide technological development, without letting himself be dominated by it!”

The Pope’s central message, repeated throughout the letter is “do not forget the poor.”

As human power increases, the temptation is to focus on ever more technological progress, power upon power.

But we must remember “the little people.”

Ordinary human beings, with dignity in the eyes of God.

“Weeping for other people’s pain does not only mean sharing in their sufferings, but also and above all realizing that our own actions are a cause of injustice and inequality,” the Pope exclaims to the powerful businessmen.

What will they think of his cry?

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The text of the letter by Pope Francis.

To Professor Klaus Schwab
Executive President of the World Economic Forum

Before all else, I would like to thank you for your gracious invitation to address the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters at the end of January on the theme: “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

I offer you my cordial good wishes for the fruitfulness of this meeting, which seeks to encourage continuing social and environmental responsibility through a constructive dialogue on the part of government, business and civic leaders, as well as distinguished representatives of the political, financial and cultural sectors.
The dawn of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” has been accompanied by a growing sense of the inevitability of a drastic reduction in the number of jobs.

The latest studies conducted by the International Labour Organization indicate that unemployment presently affects hundreds of millions of people.

The financialization and technologization of national and global economies have produced far-reaching changes in the field of labour. Diminished opportunities for useful and dignified employment, combined with a reduction in social security, are causing a disturbing rise in inequality and poverty in different countries.

Clearly there is a need to create new models of doing business which, while promoting the development of advanced technologies, are also capable of using them to create dignified work for all, to uphold and consolidate social rights, and to protect the environment. Man must guide technological development, without letting himself be dominated by it!
To all of you I appeal once more: “Do not forget the poor!” This is the primary challenge before you as leaders in the business world. “Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, must seek to help those poorer than themselves to attain dignified living conditions, particularly through the development of their human, cultural, economic and social potential” (Address to Civic and Business Leaders and the Diplomatic Corps, Bangui, 29 November 2015).
We must never allow the culture of prosperity to deaden us, to make us incapable of “feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and sensing the need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” (Evangelii Gaudium, 54).
Weeping for other people’s pain does not only mean sharing in their sufferings, but also and above all realizing that our own actions are a cause of injustice and inequality. “Let us open our eyes, then, and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism!” (Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus, 15).
Once we realize this, we become more fully human, since responsibility for our brothers and sisters is an essential part of our common humanity. Do not be afraid to open your minds and hearts to the poor. In this way, you will give free rein to your economic and technical talents, and discover the happiness of a full life, which consumerism of itself cannot provide.
In the face of profound and epochal changes, world leaders are challenged to ensure that the coming “fourth industrial revolution”, the result of robotics and scientific and technological innovations, does not lead to the destruction of the human person – to be replaced by a soulless machine – or to the transformation of our planet into an empty garden for the enjoyment of a chosen few.
On the contrary, the present moment offers a precious opportunity to guide and govern the processes now under way, and to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion and mercy.

I urge you, then, to take up anew your conversation on how to build the future of the planet, “our common home”, and I ask you to make a united effort to pursue a sustainable and integral development.
As I have often said, and now willingly reiterate, business is “a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world”, especially “if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129).

As such, it has a responsibility to help overcome the complex crisis of society and the environment, and to fight poverty. This will make it possible to improve the precarious living conditions of millions of people and bridge the social gap which gives rise to numerous injustices and erodes fundamental values of society, including equality, justice and solidarity.
In this way, through the preferred means of dialogue, the World Economic Forum can become a platform for the defence and protection of creation and for the achievement of a progress which is “healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (Laudato Si’, 112), with due regard also for environmental goals and the need to maximize efforts to eradicate poverty as set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Mr President, with renewed good wishes for the success of the forthcoming meeting in Davos, I invoke upon you and upon all taking part in the Forum, together with your families, God’s abundant blessings.

From the Vatican, 30 December 2015
+ FRANCISCUS

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What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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Comments

  1. Jón Rafn Jóhannsson says

    I have called this development the rising of the FOURTH REICH from the ruins of the Third one were international nazism and plutocracy join hands in a new World Order!