Vatican City, 5 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference, “Regenerative Medicine: A Fundamental Shift in Science & Culture”, which will place in the new Synod Hall of the Paul VI building in the Vatican from 11–13 April. Participating in the press conference were: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Dr. Robin Smith, president of The Stem for Life Foundation and CEO of NeoStem; and Msgr. Tomasz Trafny, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture's Science and Faith foundation.
“This conference,” said Msgr. Trafny, “is part of a project that developed thanks to the generosity, determination, and passion of many people belonging to different communities [such as] The Stem for Life Foundation..., the scientific community, benefactors..., journalists, as well as pastoral caregivers at various levels.”
“There are three sets of words that ideally describe our course of action. The first set is related to the objectives we have set ourselves in preparing for 2011's International Conference. They are three words: understanding, knowing, and studying. We wanted to understand what consequences the field of regenerative medicine in general and adult stem cells in particular might have upon society and culture. … It was very clear that the impact and the cultural dynamics of the research cannot be understood without first knowing what it is and it cannot be known unless it is studied. … This perspective of constant study and reflection is always valid because research progresses and we don't want to follow it but rather accompany it.”
But the organizers of the 2011 conference realized that their initial course of action had to be enriched by three other terms: translation, formation, and dissemination. “We realized,” Msgr. Trafny observed, “that contemporary science seems increasingly hermetic, impenetrable to the uninitiated and, as such, needs translating, without which it sometimes becomes difficult, if not impossible, to follow its developments. … So we focused mainly on first asking the speakers to make their knowledge more accessible to those without a scientific background. But immediately after the conference we were committed to identifying possible paths of development and dissemination at a high level. The publication of our book, 'The Healing Cell', is part of that process and we are happy that, last year, we were able to present a limited edition of the book to Pope Benedict XVI.”
To these two paths is added today a third, always expressed in three words: influence, support, and collaboration. We want “to have a cultural influence on society, pointing to research models of excellence that are, nevertheless, in tune with the highest moral values of protecting the life and dignity of the human being from the moment of conception. However, we are aware that you cannot permanently influence society and culture without the constant and far-sighted support that comes from religious, social, and political leaders, from the community of entrepreneurs and from benefactors who are ready to commit to developing long-term scientific, bioethical, and cultural research.”
In the end we are convinced that, in order to have a meaningful impact on culture it is necessary to know how to overcome prejudice and antagonism, promoting the logic of dialogue and cooperation at various levels. That is why we feel called to collaborate with the most prestigious professors, research institutes, and universities around the world.”
In conclusion, Msgr. Trafny invited journalists to attend this International Conference in order to communicate “the positive, encouraging, and optimistic message of the Church's support of high quality, ethical research to both scholars—so that they have no doubts of our commitment—as well as to those who are struggling with the pain of degenerative disease and who are awaiting hopeful signs from the research.”