From Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Pænitentia (1984):
In order to carry out this penitential ministry adequately, we shall have to evaluate the consequences of sin with “eyes enlightened”63 by faith. These consequences of sin are the reasons for division and rupture not only within each person, but also within the various circles of a person’s life: in relation to the family, to the professional and social environment, as can often be seen from experience; it is confirmed by the passage in the Bible about the city of Babel and its tower.64 Intent on building what was to be at once a symbol and a source of unity, those people found themselves more scattered than before, divided in speech, divided among themselves, incapable of consensus and agreement.
Why did the ambitious project fail? Why did “the builders labor in vain?”65 They failed because they had set up as a sign and guarantee of the unity they desired a work of their own hands alone and had forgotten the action of the Lord. They had attended only to the horizontal dimension of work and social life, forgetting the vertical dimension by which they would have been rooted in God, their creator and Lord, and would have been directed toward him as the ultimate goal of their progress.
Now it can be said that the tragedy of humanity today, as indeed of every period in history, consists precisely in its similarity to the experience of Babel.
63 Cf Eph 1:18.
64 Cf Gn 11:1-9.
65 Cf Ps 127 (126):1.
— Reconciliatio et Pænitentia 13