Pope Francis: We Live in an Age of ‘Fake News,’ ‘Pseudo-Scientific Truths’

Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatica

ROME — Pope Francis warned Wednesday of the dangers of a “society of weariness” that has lost its passion for truth and justice and turns to superstition instead.

The modern world faces a “deadly temptation of an omnipotence of knowledge – a ‘delirium of omniscience’ – that generates an impotence of the will,” the pontiff cautioned in his weekly general audience, which leads to a “surrender to knowledge of the world devoid of any passion for justice and consequent action.”

“The emptiness of meaning and lack of strength opened up by this knowledge,” he continued, “rejects any ethical responsibility and any affection for the real good.”

“It not only takes away the strength for the desire for the good: by counterreaction, it opens the door to the aggressiveness of the forces of evil,” he said. “These are the forces of reason gone mad, made cynical by an excess of ideology.”

“In fact, with all our progress, with all our prosperity, we have really become a ‘society of weariness,’” he proposed. “Think about it: we are the society of weariness.”

“Science advances, of course, and that is good,” he declared. “But the wisdom of life is something else entirely, and it seems to be stalled.”

The pope went on to suggest that the exclusive pursuit of scientific knowledge without a corresponding search for meaning and contemplation of deeper truths leaves a void easily filled by superstition.

“It is no coincidence that ours is the age of fake news, collective superstitions, and pseudo-scientific truths,” he declared. “It’s curious: in this culture of knowledge, of knowing everything, even of the precision of knowledge, a lot of witchcraft has spread, but cultured witchcraft.”

It is witchcraft “that leads you to a life of superstition,” he said, “on the one hand, to go forward with intelligence in knowing things down to the roots; on the other hand, the soul that needs something else and takes the path of superstitions, and ends up in witchcraft.”

Francis urged resistance to “the temptation of a knowledge of the world that is dreary and devoid of the wisdom of life.”

We must not “seek refuge in this somewhat non-concrete, unreal, rootless idealism – let us speak clearly – in the witchcraft of life,” he said.


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