Throughout the Aparecida document there is a continuing strong indictment of the role of the market, profitability, and functionality in determining the worth of persons and things. These are themes that we have heard recently from Pope Francis. Yet, the critique of the reduction of value to profit, to the bottom line, is central to many recent papal and Latin American documents.
In paragraph 45, the bishops reflect briefly on the powerful influence of this reductionist approach in relation to science, technology, and mass media.
When science and technology are placed solely at the service of the market and profitability and what is functional are the sole criterion of effectiveness, they create a new vision of reality. Thus, through the use of the mass media, an esthetic sense, a vision of happiness, a perception of relationship and even a language have been making inroads, and the aim is that it be imposed as an authentic culture. The result is the destruction of what is truly human in the processes of cultural construction that emerge from personal and collective exchange. (my emphasis)
Profitability and functionality as the criteria of effectiveness neglect the role of the human and the religious in a vision of reality. In this approach, the person can be reduced to a digit in the economic and social system.
This concern about the reduction of persons to economic factors can also be found in Pope Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, ¶ 14:
Development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man.