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Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Vatican City, 9 April 2013 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Mr. Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, with his wife and entourage. Secretary-General Ban later met with His Eminence, the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States.

The meeting,” reads the press communique, “which follows in the tradition of audiences granted by Popes to the various Secretaries-General of the United Nations who have held that position over the years, hopes to express the appreciation that the Holy See has for that Organization’s central role in the preservation of peace in the world, in the promotion of the common good of humanity, and in the defence of fundamental human rights.”

During the course of the cordial conversations, issues of mutual interest were discussed, in particular: situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emergency, especially in Syria and other places such as the Korean peninsula and the African continent, where peace and stability are threatened. The problem of human trafficking was noted, in particular that of women, refugees, and migrants. The UN Secretary-General, who recently began his second term in this role, outlined his project for his second five-year mandate, which focuses, among other things, on conflict prevention, international solidarity, and equitable and sustainable economic development.”

Pope Francis also recalled the Catholic Church’s contribution, beginning with her identity and through the means proper to her, in support of the entirety of human dignity and in promoting a Culture of Encounter that helps to realize the UN’s highest institutional goals.”


Vatican City, 9 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., sent a telegram on behalf of the Holy Father to Mr. David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom, on the death yesterday at 87 years of age of the Baroness Margaret Thatcher who governed the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990.
His Holiness Pope Francis” reads the telegram, “was saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. He recalls with appreciation the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of nations. Entrusting her soul to the mercy of God, and assuring her family and the British people of a remembrance in his prayers, the Holy Father invokes upon all whose lives she touched God’s abundant blessings.”


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.”


Vatican City, 9 April 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and titular of Bellicastrum.
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