Pope at Audience: ‘disconnect from TV, smart phones and connect to the Gospel in Lent’

“Lent,” Pope Francis said to some 12,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, “is a time in which to turn off the television and open the Bible.”

During his catechesis for the weekly General Audience the Pope reflected on the 40 days spent by Jesus in the desert as He prepared for His public ministry and said that, in a sense, it is a time for us to imitate Jesus and seek a place of silence, where we are free to hear the Lord’s word and experience His call.

“In the desert one hears the Word of God,” he said, “one finds intimacy with God and the love of the Lord,” noting that Jesus taught us how to seek the Father, who speaks to us in silence.

He remarked on the fact that, for many of us, it is not easy to be in silence as we live in an environment that is “polluted by too much verbal violence," by so many "offensive and harmful words" which are amplified by the internet.

“Lent is a time to disconnect from cell phones and connect to the Gospel,” he said, recalling that when he was a child there was no television, but his family would make a point of not listening to the radio.

“It is the time to give up useless words, chatter, rumors, gossip, and talk and to speak directly to the Lord,” he said, it is a time in which to dedicated ourselves to an ecology of the heart.

In a world in which we often struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord, Jesus calls us into the desert and invites us to listen to what matters, Pope Francis explained. And he recalled that when the devil tempted Him, Jesus replied “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Vatican Workshop on Ethics and AI

A workshop titled "The 'Good' Algorithm? Artificial Intelligence: Ethics, Law, Health", organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life is taking place in the Vatican on 26-28 February.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Fr. Paolo Benanti T.O.R, an expert in bioethics and technology, and Prof. Maria Chiara Carrozza, a professor of Industrial bioengineering, were the speakers at a press conference organized on 25 February by the Holy See Press office to present the workshop.

In their interventions, the three speakers touched on themes bordering on human and Artificial Intelligence (AI), healthcare, medicine and ethics.

Archbishop Paglia spoke about Pope Francis’ call to the Pontifical Academy for Life to broaden its horizons and revisit the very meaning of the term “human life” and how it is marked by emerging and converging new technologies.

He went on to emphasize the importance of creating an ethical movement that involves other actors like public institutions, NGOs and industries that are involved in reflecting on how technologies affect the care and protection of human life.

Fr. Benanti examined the different industrial revolutions and how the advent of the powerful computers of recent times have given rise to Artificial Intelligence which alter human cognition. He highlighted the consequent problem of human surrogacy by machines which have diagnostic capacities, and stressed on the need to infuse ethics into technology.

In her speech, Prof. Carrozza spoke on the importance of the application of AI to the field of medicine. She however placed emphasis on the necessity of education to ethics which will define the relationship between patients, medical professionals and technology.


Pope expresses closeness to those affected by coronavirus

Pope Francis reiterated his vicinity to those who are infected by Covid-19, to doctors, nurses, hospital staff and authorities dealing with the crisis.

Speaking on Wednesday during the General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said, “I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them.”

He also turned his thoughts to civil authorities and to all those who are involved in assisting patients and in containing the spread of the virus.

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