Human potential expands exponentially when people work together, pope says

May 9, 2023

Pope Francis waves after celebrating Mass with about 50,000 people in Budapest’s Kossuth Lajos Square, with the Hungarian Parliament building in the background on April 30. (CNS photo)

BUDAPEST (CNS) — Meeting leading Hungarian academics, researchers and inventors, Pope Francis said humility and humanity are the keys to creativity and to ensuring that technology serves people and not the other way around.

The last event of Pope Francis’ visit to Hungary April 28 to 30 was a stop at the Information Technology and Bionics Department of Péter Pázmány Catholic University in Budapest. The department brings together engineers, computer programmers, biologists, neurologists and physicians to create devices that assist people with a variety of physical limitations.

With representatives of other Hungarian universities and from the “world of culture” present, the pope asked them to consider the meaning of the maxim, “Know thyself.”

The first step of knowing oneself, he said, is to recognize “our limitations and, consequently, to curb the presumption of self-sufficiency.”
“This proves beneficial precisely because, once we realize that we are creatures, we become creative,” he said. “We learn to immerse ourselves in the world instead of attempting to dominate it.”

Too often, the pope said, the modern world acts like technology has no limits, but it ignores the fact that people do.

“Flesh and blood human beings are fragile, and it is precisely by experiencing this that they come to realize their dependence on God and their connectedness to others and to creation,” he said.

The “amazing potential” of human ingenuity, he said, is not what one person can achieve alone but what individuals can achieve when they work with others, combining areas of expertise, challenging and supporting one another.

Freedom and truth are essential as well, the pope said.

Hungary’s experience of communism, which claimed to offer truth, severely restricted people’s freedom, he said. And now, “consumerism promises a hedonistic, conformist, libertine ‘freedom’ that enslaves people to consumption and to material objects.”

“How easy it is to pass from limits imposed on thinking, as in communism, to the belief that there are no limits, as in consumerism,” the pope said, and “to pass from a blinkered freedom to an unbridled freedom.”

The truth Jesus offers, he said, expands freedom because it expands connections.

“The key to accessing this truth is a form of knowledge that is never detached from love, a knowledge that is relational, humble and open, concrete and communal, courageous and constructive,” Pope Francis said.