He made the comments during an audience with the Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute, a think tank dedicated to promoting an authentic vision of human dignity in the public square.
The Pope lamented that today a “throwaway culture” risks becoming “the dominant mentality.”
“The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings – the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people... who are in danger of being ‘thrown out,’ expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs,” he said, according to atranslation published by Zenit.
“This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,’” he added.
The papal audience marked the fifth anniversary of the Institute, which launched in 2008 and boasts an advisory board of eleven Cardinals. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino serves as honorary president and Cardinal Raymond Burke acts as president of the advisory board.
The organization takes a strong pro-life stand. In October, it called on the Church to excommunicate Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion. To let them remain in the fold, they said, would be “false charity.”
In his address, the Pope praised the Institute and similar initiatives that “aim to help people, communities and institutions to rediscover the ethical and social importance of the principle of human dignity, which is the root of liberty and justice.”
“The Church’s social doctrine, with its integral vision of man, as a personal and social being, is our ‘compass,’” he said. “Here there is a fruit that is of particular significance to the long journal of the People of God in modern and contemporary history: there is the defense of religious liberty, of life in all its phases, of the right to work and to decent work, of the family, of education...”
He said awareness campaigns and formation programs are necessary, especially for politicians, to help people “think according to the Gospel and the Church’s social doctrine.”
He also called for dialogue with people of good will who “share – if not the faith – a similar vision of man and society and its ethical consequences.”