VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians must be cautious of new forms of “ideological colonization” that appear under the guise of promoting virtue, modernity and new attitudes, Pope Francis said.

“They are (forms of) colonization, that is, they deprive one of freedom, and they are ideologies that are afraid of reality as God has created it,” the pope said March 3 to participants of the Pontifical Academy for Life’s plenary assembly.

Reflecting on the theme of the academy’s plenary assembly, the pope highlighted the importance of virtue in doing good, which is a “free choice” and not the result of one’s plans or social conditioning.


“Science and technology is not enough. To do good, the wisdom of the heart is necessary,” he said.

Good deeds come from the heart which is connected to the “movement of the Holy Spirit” and is where God pours out his wisdom, he said. However, many people today do not recognize this connection which “is unique and very precious in God’s eyes.”

“For this reason, the first nature that must be protected, so that it may bear fruit, is our own humanity. We must give it the clean air of freedom and the living waters of truth and protect it from the poisons of selfishness and lies,” he said.

Virtue, he continued, is not an emotion but the authentic expression of the good men and women are capable of doing with the help of God. A heart that distances itself from good and the truth of God’s word risks confusing good with evil while losing all sense of virtue.

To speak of virtue means understanding that the choice to do good involves a person’s whole being and “is not a question of a ‘cosmetic’ or exterior embellishment that does not bear fruit. It is about eradicating dishonest desires from the heart and seeking to do good with sincerity,” he said.

While recognizing that many institutions committed to “the service of life” in both research and practical assistance are motivated by a passion to do good, Pope Francis warned that “there also are many structures concerned more about economic interests than the common good.”