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Day: April 28, 2016

Bulletin for 5/8/2016

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Pope: There is always resistance in the Church to surprises of the Spirit

(Vatican Radio) There is always resistance to the surprises of the Spirit, but it’s the Spirit who continues to lead the Church forward. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Thursday at the Santa Marta chapel as he reflected on the reading about division and resistance within the early Church in Jerusalem.
Commenting on today’s reading from Acts about the Council of Jerusalem, Pope Francis said the protagonist in the Church is always the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit who, from the very beginning, gives strength to the apostles to proclaim the Gospel and it’s the Spirit who carries the Church forward despite its problems.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report
Even when there is an outbreak of persecution, the Pope said, it’s the Spirit who gives believers the strength to stand firm in the faith, even if they face resistance and anger from the doctors of the law. In the passage from Acts, the Pope noted, there was a double resistance to the Spirit, from those who believed that Jesus came only for the chosen people and from those who wanted to impose the law of Moses, including the practice of circumcision, on those who had converted.
There was great confusion over all this, the Pope said, but the Spirit led their hearts in a new direction. The apostles were surprised by the Spirit, he said, as they found themselves in new and unthinkable situations. But how were they to manage these circumstances? Pope Francis said the passage begins by noting that ‘much debate had taken place’: no doubt heated debate, because on the one hand they were pushed on and on by the Spirit, but on the other, they were facing new situations that they had never seen or even imagined, such as pagans receiving the Holy Spirit.
The disciples were holding a ‘hot potato’ in their hands and didn’t know what to do, the Pope said. Thus they called a meeting in Jerusalem where each one could recount their experiences of how the Holy Spirit had been received by the Gentiles. And in the end they came to an agreement. But first , the Pope noted, “The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.” Never be afraid to listen with humility, the Pope said. When you are afraid to listen, you don’t have the Spirit in your heart. When the apostles had listened, they decided to send several of the disciples to the Greeks, the pagan communities, that had become Christians to reassure them.
Those who converted, the Pope continued, were not obliged to be circumcised. The decision was communicated to them in a letter in which the disciples say that “The Holy Spirit and we have decided….” This is the way of the Church when faced with novelties, the Pope said. Not the worldly novelties of fashion, but the novelties of the Spirit who always surprises us. How does the Church resolve these problems? Through meetings and discussions, listening and praying, before making a final decision. This is the way of the Church when the Spirit surprises us, Pope Francis said, recalling the resistance that emerged in recent times during the Second Vatican Council.
That resistance continues today in one way or another, he said, yet the Spirit moves ahead. And the way the Church expresses its communion is through synodality, by meeting, listening, debating, praying and deciding. The Spirit is always the protagonist and the Lord asks us not to be afraid when the Spirit calls us. Just as the Spirit stopped St Paul and set him on the right road, so the Spirit will give us the courage and the patience to win over adversity and stand firm in the face of martyrdom. Let us ask the Lord for grace, the Pope concluded, to understand how the Church can face the surprises of the Spirit, to be docile and to follow the path which Christ wants for us and for the whole Church.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Conference on Regenerative Medicine opens in Vatican

(Vatica n Radio)  Advances in regenerative medicine will top the agenda of an international conference opening in the Vatican Thursday.  “ Cellular Horizons: How Science, Technology, Information and Communication will Impact Society” 28-30 April is the third in a series of conferences (2011 and 2013) organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture’s office for Science and Faith and The Stem For Life Foundation on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine and its Cultural Impact . Researchers, doctors, patients, policy makers, business leaders and philanthropists will look at successful new therapies and attempt to identify ways to make them more available.
Listen to the report by Tracey McClure:

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture , says:
“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we would like to challenge all of society to search for the cures to human illness.  The advancement of regenerative medicine holds great promise for the future, and together, we must bring these vital cellular therapies to the hundreds of millions of people suffering from disease around the world, especially those from under-served and developing nations.  With this event, we sound a clarion call to humanity that tomorrow’s cures can be found today in the human body, and that we have an obligation to bring these cellular therapies out of the clinic and into the real world.”
“Whether immunotherapies for cancer or stem cell treatments for rare diseases, there are now over 30,000 cell therapy trials in development noted on the clincaltrials.gov website,” says Dr. Robin Smith, President of The Stem For Life Foundation.   “This event will rally the world around a powerful idea – that the cells of our bodies hold the potential to vanquish disease, reduce global suffering and inspire hope for people around the world living with illness.”
3 Days focusing on the “cellular revolution”
The focus on Thursday,  the opening day of the conference, will be on ground-breaking therapies offering new hope in the treatment of pediatric cancer, rare diseases and diabetes.  On Friday, speakers will present cellular and technological breakthroughs in cancer and autoimmune disorders, and discuss the delivery of health care using technology and big data.  Pope Francis is expected to greet participants in an audience Friday. Also Friday: talks on “The Dawn of Next Generation Health Care” and “Humans 2.0” exploring societal, ethical psychological and spiritual implications of how technological advances in life sciences are poised to challenge even what it means to be human.
On Saturday, the final day of the conference, speakers will concentrate on “Cellular Frontiers” with emphasis on research, regulation and funding. Talks will focus on stem cell research, and include “Rebuilding and Restoring the Human Body,” “Aligning Stakeholders to Build a Regenerative Care Model,” “Facilitating Cellular Innovation and Distribution,” “Healthy Aging,” “Feeding Cells, Starving Cancer and Aging Well,” and “Cell Therapy Philanthropy.”
(from Vatican Radio)…

Financial Information Authority presents Annual Report

(Vatican Radio) A press briefing was held on Thursday morning, in the John Paul II Hall of the Press Office of the Holy See, for the presentation of the Annual Report of the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (the Financial Information Authority, AIF), on the activities of financial reporting and supervision, both with regard to prudential decisions and for the prevention and combatting of money laundering and the financing of terrorism during Year IV, 2015.
Present at the briefing, in addition to the Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, were the President of the AIF, Dr René Brülhart, and the Director of the AIF, Dr Tommaso Di Ruzza.
Below, please find the official Press Release regarding the 2015 Annual Report of the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria:
AIF press release | Annual Report 2015 | Effective regulatory framework
The Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria(AIF) of the Holy See and the Vatican City State has presented its Annual Report for 2015. The report reviews the activities and statistics of AIF for the year  2015.
2015 has seen an effective implementation and application of the regulatory framework of the  Holy See and the Vatican City State. Furthermore, international cooperation of the Vatican competent authority with its foreign counterparts to fight illicit financial activities has been intensified.
“The full implementation and application of Regulation No. 1 has shown the effectiveness of the regulatory framework of the Holy See and Vatican City State,” said René Brülhart, President of AIF. “International cooperation remains a key commitment of AIF. Additional Memoranda of Understandings with competent authorities of other jurisdictions were signed and the exchange of information on a bilateral level has increased significantly.”
The reporting system has been consolidated and in the last three years, 893 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR) (202 in 2013, 147 in 2014 and 544 in 2015) have been filed with AIF.
“The  increase of STRs was not due to higher potential illicit financial activities, but to a number of different  factors, namely the finalization of the closure of client relationships no longer compliant with Vatican legislation and policies adopted by supervised entities, the monitoring of clients’ activities under foreign countries’ voluntary tax compliance programs as well as the general strengthening of the reporting system and the increased awareness of the supervised entities,” said Tommaso Di Ruzza, Director of AIF. In 2015, 17 reports were submitted to the Vatican Promoter of Justice for further investigation by judicial authorities.
The number of cases of bilateral cooperation between AIF and foreign competent authorities increased from 4 in 2012 to 81 in 2013 to113 in 2014 and 380 in 2015.
Since 2012, the number of declarations of outgoing cash above the amount of EUR 10,000 decreased steadily from 1,782 (2012) to 1,557 (2013) and 1,111 in2014 and remained stable in 2015 (1,196). Declarations for incoming cash also decreased from 598 (2012) to 550 (2013) to 429 in 2014 and 367 in 2015. This is due to an increased monitoring by the competent authorities and the introduction of reinforced procedures at the supervised entities.
About AIF
The Financial Information Authority is the competent authority of the Holy See and Vatican City State for supervision and financial intelligence for the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism as well as prudential supervision.
Established by Pope Benedict XVI with the Apostolic Letter in form of Motu Proprio of 30 December 2010, AIF carries out its institutional activities in accordance with its new Statute introduced by Pope Francis with Motu Proprio of 15 November 2013 and Law No. XVIII of 8 October 2013.
In 2015, AIF signed MOUs with the financial intelligence units (FIUs) of Albania, Cuba, Luxemburg, Norway, Paraguay and Hungary. In previous years, AIF had already signed MOUs with the Authorities of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America, South Africa and Switzerland. AIF became a member of the Egmont Group in 2013. 
(from Vatican Radio)…