Vatican Roundup

Medical research should aim at protecting life – Pope Francis

Moral and ethical concerns must guide medical research so it is always directed to the protection of human life and dignity, Pope Francis has said.

Speaking at a Vatican-hosted conference on adult stem cell research, the Pope said in this way research can “serve higher values, such as solidarity, generosity, magnanimity, sharing of knowledge, respect for human life and fraternal and selfless love”.

The conference looked at current and experimental techniques in using adult stem cells to fight disease, specifically rare illnesses afflicting children. 

In his speech the Pontiff maintained that research “requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person”.

He highlighted the problem of those faced with rare diseases which often are insufficiently researched “because investing in them is not expected to produce substantial economic returns”, and challenged “an economy of exclusion and inequality that victimises people when the mechanism of profit prevails over the value of human life”. 


Six arrested as planned attack on Vatican is foiled

Italian authorities have arrested six suspects, all of Moroccan origin, who allegedly received orders from the ISIS terrorist group to attack the Vatican and Rome’s Israeli embassy. The arrests were the result of a joint operation coordinated by Milan’s district attorney and the Italian anti-terrorism agency. A warrant has been issued for two further suspects, who are believed to have left for Syria last year.

Authorities monitored a series of online conversations between the suspects which mentioned a strike against the Israeli embassy as well as against pilgrims in Rome for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. “I swear I will be the first to attack them in this Italy of crusaders, I swear I’ll attack it, in the Vatican, God willing,” a message from one of the arrested suspects stated.


Witnesses called at trial of five

The first witnesses called by the Vatican prosecution in the trial of five people, including two journalists, accused of disseminating confidential documents, have testified about suspicious secret meetings and excessive photocopying of sensitive documents. Stefano Fralleoni, former accountant general of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, said investigations by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See had caused a “fracture” within the prefecture staff. 

Paola Monaco, secretary to the prefecture’s former president, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, and Paola Pellegrino, the prefecture’s archivist, also testified, saying that the office’s cordial atmosphere broke down when Msgr Vallejo Balda began working with the commission and especially with Francesca Chaouqui. Both Msgr Balda and Ms Chaouqui are among those on trial.


Suspicious transactions identified

Better procedures have enabled more effective identification of suspicious transactions, the Vatican’s financial watchdog has said. The Financial Intelligence Authority received 544 reports of suspicious activities in 2015, almost triple that of the previous year, its annual report has said. Eight transactions, totalling more than €8.1 million, were suspended, and four accounts or assets totalling more than €7.5 million were frozen.

Explaining that “this was not due to a higher financial crime rate”, the agency said this was instead due to policies being implemented, reporting procedures being strengthened, and Vatican personnel being more aware of their duty to report questionable activity.