The Vatican Hosts a Hackathon

In recent years, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything from the opioid crisis to gerrymandering. It's hard to imagine a field where a hack day hasn't been utilized to solve one problem or another. But tomorrow a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will be making hackathon history: participating in the first-ever codefest in Vatican City.

The event, VHacks, is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees.

The seed of the idea sprouted last year when Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. Salobir had helped organize hackathons through Optic before, in San Francisco and Paris, but he was thinking of coordinating one at the church's enclave in Rome. "In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, including in terms of using digital technologies and digital media," Salobir says. "This is the first [hackathon] at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic."

In his tenure, Francis has embraced social media—he has 17 million Twitter followers and more than 5 million devotees on Instagram—and even spoke last year at TED, the conference famous for drawing flocks of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists. But he’s also openly discussed the peril of technology. In his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, released in 2015, Francis directly addressed technology’s influence and implications in a lengthy chapter titled, "The roots of the ecological crisis." In it, he asked that the church focus on the "dominant technocratic paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world" and examine the globalization of that paradigm.

Because technological applications can have international impacts, the organizers of the hackathon focused on soliciting participants from universities and programs around the world, looking for candidates from different backgrounds and faiths. "A key message on this event is collaboration and working together on the issues we all experience," Florkiewicz says. "Even if it’s facilitated by the Vatican as a religious institution, it’s a completely non-religious event."

Salobir agrees. "The point is not just to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society," he says, noting the church also works with institutions like schools and hospitals to bring aid to as large a constituency as possible.

But as society continues to question whether technology is the problem or the solution, the participants of VHacks have a big task ahead of them.

"We don’t expect anyone to solve such difficult issues," says Florkiewicz, "but I hope we can inspire both clerics and lay people to see this as an innovative model for engaging the younger generation with the problems."

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Hard To Watch: This Girl Who Wont Go In The Pool Because She Just Got Her First Period Is Way Overselling Her Lie About How Her Religion Doesnt Allow Swimming

If you were looking for a heartwarming story, you might want to stop reading now, because the scene currently unfolding at a neighborhood pool party is sure to make you cringe: Thirteen-year-old Katie Moore isn’t going in the pool because she just got her first period, and now she’s way overselling her lie about how her religion doesn’t allow swimming.

Jeez. This is definitely hard to watch. Everyone got the hint when she said her religious beliefs forbid swimming, and she really could’ve just left it at that.

From the moment her friends jumped into the pool, Katie’s been leaning way too hard on her lie about how her family belongs to a little-known sect of Christianity in which swimming is forbidden, both recreationally and for survival. Although everyone at the party was immediately cool to just let her chill out by the side of the pool without any fuss, she proceeded to tell everybody her family’s faith stipulates that her soul will be damned to Hell for an eternity of unbearable torment should she swim.

“My family’s priest will excommunicate me from the church if I even get my feet wet,” Katie said as she ignored her friends’ offer to just get out of the pool and go on the trampoline with her instead. “A few years ago, my uncle went swimming in the hotel pool at our Christmas celebration, and now we’re not even allowed to say his name.”

Sadly, even though all of Katie’s friends are nodding and saying it’s fine if she doesn’t swim with them, she’s continuing to pad out this unnecessary lie with excessive detail, including a made-up biblical story she says her family holds sacred about twin sisters named Victoria and Zemirah who swam in a river instead of preparing supper and, as punishment, were beheaded by their father, who was anointed with scented oils by the king as a reward for slaying the blasphemous swimmers.

Damn, Katie’s really going to some incredible lengths to avoid telling people she just got her period. Someone should probably tell her she can take it easy. Party guests say that when her friend’s mom came outside with a box of popsicles, Katie didn’t even give her a chance to ask why she wasn’t in the pool before launching into a convoluted explanation about how the only day her religion will permit her to swim is on the eve of her wedding, and that when she does finally get in the water, it will be a really beautiful ceremony at a lake, which is something she says she knows because she saw her cousin swim before he got married last summer.

Yikes. You’ve gotta feel for this girl. Her elaborate lie about her anti-swimming religion is becoming more labyrinthine by the moment. It’s definitely not easy to have your first period at a pool party, but this is total overkill. Hopefully Katie finds a way to wrap this up at some point before she digs herself into too big of a hole.

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Cardinal George Pell charged with multiple sexual offences

Pell says he will return to Australia to clear his name after being charged Move against third-ranking official in Vatican sends shockwaves around church

Cardinal George Pell, Australias most senior Catholic and the third-ranking official in the Vatican, has been charged with multiple sexual offences by police.

The charges were served on Pells legal representatives in Melbourne on Thursday and they have been lodged also at Melbourne magistrates court. He will appear at the court on 18 July.

Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants, Victoria polices deputy commissioner Shane Patton said. The charges were historical sexual assault offences.

In a statement released by the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney 90 minutes after the charges were announced, Pell announced he would return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name.

Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic churchs long-running sexual abuse scandal.

Pells statement, issued at 4.30am Rome time, said: Although it is still in the early hours of the morning in Rome, Cardinal George Pell has been informed of the decision and action of Victoria police. He has again strenuously denied all allegations.

Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors who will also advise on his travel arrangements.

He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously.

It is so far unclear just what allegations Pell has been charged with. Pell was due to make a further statement in Rome later on Thursday.

Detectives from Victoria polices Sano taskforce, established to investigate allegations that emerged during a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria and the later royal commission, interviewed Pell in Rome in October about allegations against him.

Last year, citing ill health, Pell declined to return to Australia to give evidence to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in person last year and instead gave evidence by videolink from Rome.

The royal commission, ordered by then-Australian prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012 and formed in 2013, is due to deliver its final report by 15 December.

In February the Australian Senate called on the cardinal to return home to assist the Victorian police and office of public prosecutions with their investigation into these matters.

Pell dismissed the parliamentary resolution as an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria police investigation.

The cardinal is a former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne. Since 2014 he has been prefect of the secretariat for the economy the Vaticans treasurer. He was ordained in Rome in 1966.

When Pope Francis was asked about allegations against Pell last year, he told reporters: Its true, there is a doubt. We have to wait for justice and not first make a mediatic judgment a judgment of gossip because that wont help. Once justice has spoken, I will speak.

Shane Patton, Victoria state police deputy commissioner, announces charges against George Pell in Melbourne. Photograph: Reuters

Patton told the media conference: During the course of the investigation in relation to Cardinal Pell, there has been a lot of reporting in the media and speculation about the process that has been involved in the investigation and also the charging.

For clarity, I want to be perfectly clear, the process and procedures that are being followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offences whenever we investigate them.

The fact that he has been charged on summons, we have used advice from the office of public prosecutions and also we have engaged with his legal representatives is common and standard practice. There has been no change in any procedures whatsoever. Advice was received and sought from the office of public prosecutions, however ultimately, the choice to charge Cardinal Pell was one that was made by Victoria police.

Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore, it is important that the process is allowed to run its natural course.

Patton said as the matter was now due before the court, police would be making no further comment.

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