Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

When the Pope meets with the Mufti of Istanbul but lacks the courage to meet the Dalai Lama

December 15, 2014

Though I have fond memories of the Jesuits who ran my school, I have not a very high regard for the courage of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has apparently been a breath of fresh air but I am having second thoughts. All his apparent actions on trying to combat the paedophilia that is inherent in the celibate church and his apparent attempt to be inclusive of homosexuals and even gay marriage, now seem to me to be more concerned with damage control and of improving the image of the church rather than with effecting any real change.

It may be that even this “superficial” behaviour by an “outsider” in the Vatican shows a level of personal courage that is unusual and commendable. But I now begin to think that Pope Francis too is more concerned with being seen as politically correct. The Nobel peace prize winners have been at a congress in Rome and the Dalai Lama requested a meeting with the Pope only to be rejected.

BBC: Pope Francis will not meet the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama because of the “delicate situation” with China, the Vatican says. The Dalai Lama, who is visiting Rome, had requested a meeting. A Vatican spokesman said that although the Pope held him “in very high regard”, the request had been declined “for obvious reasons“.

The “obvious reasons” had everything to do with political appeasement of the Chinese government and nothing to do with ethics or spirituality or even any sense of right or wrong. There are almost 100 million Catholics and 25 million Muslims in China. The Chinese government sees terrorists among their Muslim minorities but the Catholics mainly as being deluded but not as subversive. The Pope has no problem in visiting mosques and meeting Muftis. The rejection of the Dalai Lama must be put into the perspective of his other meetings. I’m quite sure that in both these cases he is following the instructions of the Cardinal bureaucrats of the Vatican.

Pope Francis prays with Rahmi Yaran, Mufti of Istanbul (right) during a visit to the Sultan Ahmet mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, on Nov. 29, 2014. REUTERS/ Osservatore Romano


Why bug the papal election if not to influence the election – or the next Pope?

October 30, 2013

The report is that the NSA eavesdropped on the papal election. That they may have done so does not surprise. But if they did they must have had some purpose – one presumes. And what other purpose could there be except to either influence the election itself, or to gain influence over whoever was elected pope?

Were the US cardinals privy to the bugging by the NSA? Were they perhaps getting secret text messages from the NSA as to how the election was progressing? Perhaps they were even getting instructions. How heavy was the betting on the outcome of the election? Any possibilities of spot-fixing? The Sistine Chapel is supposed to have the means to scramble all mobile signals but getting past these ought to be child’s play for the NSA.

The possibilities are endless. It has all the makings of a wonderful conspiracy theory. Maybe even another book by Dan Brown? Perhaps the NSA can even listen in on Pope Francis using his hotline to his Superior.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were true?

I shall be following Papal pronouncements with great interest to see how closely Pope Francis follows a pro-US line!!!!!!!!!


US secret services allegedly eavesdropped on cardinals before the conclave in March to elect a new pope, Italian weekly magazine Panorama claimed Wednesday.

“The National Security Agency wiretapped the pope,” the magazine said, accusing the United States of listening in to telephone calls to and from the Vatican, including the accommodation housing cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio before he was elected Pope Francis.

The allegations follow a report on surveillance website Cryptome which said the United States intercepted 46 million telephone calls in Italy in December 2012 and early January 2013.

Among those, “there are apparently also calls from and to the Vatican,” Panorama said.

“It is feared that the great American ear continued to tap prelates’ conversations up to the eve of the conclave,” it said, adding that there were “suspicions that the conversations of the future pope may have been monitored”.

Bergoglio “had been a person of interest to the American secret services since 2005, according to Wikileaks,” it said.

The bugged conversations were divided into four categories: “leadership intentions”, “threats to financial systems”, “foreign policy objectives” and “human rights,” it claimed.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said “we have heard nothing of this and are not worried about it.”

Vatican — duping or duped about VSEL stem cells?

July 29, 2013

Vatican theologians have a long history of going to extraordinary lengths and convolutions to align theology with every new scientific advance. It has not been unknown for theologians to try and massage the facts and to direct new research along theologically “acceptable” paths.

The Vatican – and other religious organisations – consider the use of adult stem cells to be ethically quite acceptable whereas they consider the use of embryonic stem cells to be unethical since it involves the “murder” of the embryos. And they have put their weight behind VSEL (very small embryonic-like) stem cells. But they have gone overboard in promoting the possible benefits of the use of adult stem cells even to the extent of holding conferences about the potential benefits. But many researchers are appalled by theology overriding science and holding out false hopes.

Nature: April 2013

The Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell meeting, held on 11–13 April in Vatican City, was a shamelessly choreographed performance. Sick children were paraded for television, sharing the stage with stem-cell companies and scientists desperate to hawk a message that their therapies must be speeded to clinical use. ….

A kilometre away at the Italian senate, meanwhile, parliamentarians further eroded protection for vulnerable patients targeted by stem-cell companies. On 10 April, they amended an already controversial ministerial decree (see Nature 495, 418–419; 2013) with a clause that would redefine stem-cell therapy as tissue transplantation, thereby releasing it from any regulatory oversight. If the second parliamentary chamber endorses this amendment, Italy will be out of step with the rules of the European Union and the US Food and Drug Administration, both of which define stem cells modified outside the body as medicines.

Many scientists around the world were appalled by the events in Rome, and rightly so. It is wrong to exploit the desperation of the disabled and the terminally ill and to raise false hopes of quick fixes, as some at the Vatican meeting tried to do. It is also wrong to try to use such patients as experimental animals by bypassing regulatory agencies, as the Italian parliament seems to want to do. ….

Now it seems that the Vatican has either been duped about very small embryonic-like stem cells or has been involved in perpetuating the myth that these cells even exist and offer an alternative.


Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine issued a report this month that said a type of stem-cell alternative approved by the Vatican and other theologians has turned out to be a myth. According to an essay by bioethicist Arthur Caplan, Dr. Irving Weissman and his team have concluded that so-called very small embryonic-like (VSEL) stem cells are at best a laboratory error and at worst a deliberate fraud perpetrated on the scientific and religious communities.

In 2011, the Vatican called a press conference to present Polish stem cell biologist Mariusz Z. Ratajczak, who claimed that he had discovered heretofore unknown stem cells present in adult cells. These tiny cells, he claimed, could perform the same tasks as embryonic stem cells, including tissue regeneration and the miraculous capacity that embryonic stem cells have to mimic other types of cell tissue. Moreover, these VSEL cells, said Ratajczak, could be harvested from adult cells without harming human embryos or relying on them for cell material.

“The theologians,” wrote Caplan, “were delighted.” They believed that the new technology could halt what they see as the murder of unborn children. The Vatican took the unprecedented step of investing heavily in NeoStem, a company claiming to specialize in VSEL research and production, in hopes that the new technology would render the destruction of embryos for stem cells obsolete. ….. The trouble is, the cells don’t exist. At least, according to Weissman, who said that his team not only hasn’t been able to make VSELs perform their tissue-regenerative miracles in the laboratory, they can’t find them at all. …

….. Rüdiger Alt, head of research at Vita 34, an umbilical cord blood bank in Leipzig, Germany — whose team also failed to get results from Ratajczak’s methods — told the journal Nature, “Weissman’s evidence is a clincher — it is the end of the road for VSELs.”

Bioethicist Caplan wrote that supporters of VSEL research “say their peers just don’t have the techniques down for finding them. But it is just as likely that in their hope to find a solution to stem cell research acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups they have let themselves find something that is just not there.”

He concluded, “Until someone other then those tied to the power of VSELS for religious or business reasons can find them, be wary of any claims about their power to heal.”

The strange story of the San Raffaele Research Institute, Don Verzé, the Vatican, corruption and a suicide!

October 18, 2011

This is a very strange tale of a prestigious Italian bio-medical Research Institute, a strange priest, tons of money, huge debts, corruption, a suicide, the Vatican and – of course – links to Berlusconi.

It reads like a film script and a subject worthy of a Dan Brown blockbuster.

Alison Abbott writes in Nature:

One of Italy’s most prestigious biomedical research centres now faces bankruptcy, against a backdrop of rumours fed by intrigue among power-brokers, allegations of fraud and corruption, and a violent death. Next week, a court will decide whether to leave the Milan-based San Raffaele Scientific Institute to its fate, or allow a consortium led by the Vatican Bank to rescue it. (more…)

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