Unfortunately, progress has gotten a bad name. The word has been hijacked and many use it to mean a political agenda that encourages leaving moral absolutes and classical values behind. This is not the real meaning of the word progress.
Merriam-Webster defines progress as “gradual betterment; especially: the progressive development of humankind.” “Progressive development” itself is not as intimidating as the common vernacular is now understood.
It’s time that we revert to the real meaning of the word progress and embrace it for what it is—”betterment of society.” There’s no reason to be scared of progress.
Abandoning moral absolutes is not “betterment.” Running from classical values, likewise, doesn’t propel society forward. To the contrary, it pushes it back. At the same time, technological innovation and similar developments bring about the advancement of society. They provide us greater opportunity to do more with less.
In Communio and Progressio, the Catholic Church encourages the laity, especially the youth, to embrace technology and social mediums (the great areas of progress in our time) and to leverage them for great good. We will not be able to fulfill this mission if we “protect” ourselves, or our children, from technology and prevent them from learning how to use it for greater good.
Progress that is consistent with the natural law should be embraced, not shunned. We are doing ourselves, and society, a great disservice when we run from it. We not only become poor stewards by refusing to use the tools at our disposal, we also communicate a perception that advancement and morality can coexist. This is far from the truth; in fact, true progress can only be obtained in close alignment with morality.
It’s time for Catholics to recapture the inventiveness of years gone by and embrace our tradition as a leading innovative institution.