Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo | Former PAS Chancellor

Reflections – A 24-year history of service for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

I would like to thank President Joachim von Braun for this special session of the Plenary devoted to a reflection on my 24 years of service as Chancellor. I would have liked to discuss in detail the important contributions the Academy has made over these years – as shown by the one hundred and twenty-five publications that are also on our website, as well as peer-reviewed publications. To these I should add the booklets that we prepare for each meeting, with enormous effort on behalf of the President, the Chancellor and the staff. Time is short and this is not the moment to do so. I will therefore limit myself to what I would call the major contributions.

First of all, I would like to answer a question I have always asked myself: why has the Pope had an Academy of natural and then social sciences since 1603, which he has maintained even in sometimes difficult circumstances? No other religion that I know of has an academy of science, and many religious leaders have been interested in creating something similar. For the sake of brevity, I will answer in broad strokes. For the religion which we have the joy to profess: ‘Christ is the Truth’, as St John’s Gospel says in many ways, giving a definitive answer to the question of truth. All other truth is a participation of that Truth by essence, which here we can only see by analogy, Videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate (1 Cor 13:12). Therefore, the Church seeks and loves the Truth and all its participations. One of these participations is the epistemic project of the sciences. Truth is the goal of the whole universe, finis totius Universi est veritas, as one of the greatest thinkers, Thomas Aquinas, wrote (CG, I,1). So, the task of the sciences was and remains a patient yet passionate search for the truth about the universe, about nature and about the constitution of the human being, especially in relation to the human body and the human brain, which cannot be obtained in any other way. I like to call this form of truth, “epistemic project”, according to contemporary philosophy, because in this search there have been many successes and some failures, triumphs and setbacks. However, even the interim results are a real contribution and a project for an ever-closer correspondence between the intellect and natural realities, on which later generations can build.

In addition, St John’s Gospel itself indicates the fruits of this research and practice: ‘The truth will set you free’. These words are perennially valid and illuminate with divine light the work of the scientists who refuse to subordinate their commitment and their research to anything but the truth and its power of liberation from all kinds of evils, such as ignorance, marginalisation, isolation, vice, hatred and violence. Truth is a good and does good. The truth of knowledge is liberating to the extent that it rises to the level of love and charity, especially towards the needy, the less fortunate and the marginalised.

The members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences were deeply involved in this development, particularly with respect to epistemological and methodological questions as well as to interdisciplinary aspects which become ever more important in scientific research. The Academy deals with these questions and aspects not only in the context of its Plenary Sessions, for example on “Changing Concepts of Nature at the Turn of the Millennium” (R. Hide, J. Mittelstraß & W.J. Singer, 26-29 Oct. 1998), “Les enjeux de la connaissance scientifique pour l’homme d’aujourd’hui” (N. Cabibbo, P. Léna & M.S.S., 4 May 2000, in partnership with the French Academy), “Science and the Future of Mankind” (N. Cabibbo, W. Arber & M.S.S., 10-13 Nov. 2000), “The Challenges of Sciences” (N. Cabibbo & M. Sela, 23-24 Feb. 2001), “The Cultural Values of Science” (N. Cabibbo, W. Arber & M.S.S., 8-11 Nov. 2002), “Paths of Discovery” (W. Arber, J. Mittelstraß & M.S.S., 5-8 Nov. 2004), “Predictability in Science” (N. Cabibbo & W. Arber, 3-6 Nov. 2006), “The Evolution of the Universe and of Life” (N. Cabibbo & W. Arber, 31 Oct.-4 Nov. 2008), “Complexity and Analogy in Science: Theoretical, Methodological and Epistemological Aspects” (W. Arber, J. Mittelstraß & M.S.S., 5-7 Nov. 2012) or “Impacts of Scientific Knowledge and Technology on Human Society and its Environment” (W. Arber, J. Mittelstraß & M.S.S., 25-29 Nov. 2016), “Transformative Roles of Science in Society” (J. von Braun & M.S.S., 12-14 Nov. 2018), but also in conferences, workshops and study weeks, for example on, “Papal Addresses” (M.S.S., 2003), “The Educated Brain” (A. Battro, K.W. Fischer, P.J. Léna, 7-8 Nov. 2003), “Eschatology from a Cosmic Perspective” (G. Ellis & G. Coyne, 7-9 Nov. 2000), “Astrobiology” (Card. G. Lajolo & J. I. Lunine, 6-10 Nov. 2009) and “Contemplation on the Relations Between Science and Faith” (W. Arber, to Pope Benedict XVI & the members of the Bishops’ Synod on 12 Oct. 2012).

So, as we have said, the first answer is that, for the Church, the epistemic project of science is a form of truth, as evidenced, inter alia, by Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ taking on board the conclusions reached by the Academy on global warming. This brings me to the first study week of my term as Chancellor, which was on “Geosphere-Biosphere-Climate Interactions” (L.O. Bengtsson, C.U. Hammer, 9-13 Nov. 1998). It testifies that the Academy is not only the mirror of science and the protagonist of research development, but also deals with issues related to the role of science for the common good of humanity and the planet. That study week was when Academician Paul Crutzen launched the idea of the considerable influence that human activity had on the conditions of the atmosphere, characterizing our era as the Anthropocene, i.e., an age in which human activity is the main factor of change in the biosphere. This was followed by important studies at PAS by M. Molina, V. Ramanathan and J. Schellnhuber, showing that human activity that uses fossil fuels and deforests the planet leads to global warming and health issues, as related, for example, in “Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene” (P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson & V. Ramanathan, 2-4 Apr. 2011), “Sustainable Humanity Sustainable Nature our Responsibility” (P.S. Dasgupta & V. Ramanathan, 2-6 May 2014), “Biological Extinction. New Perspectives” (P. Dasgupta, P.H. Raven & A.L. McIvor, 27 Feb.-1 Mar. 2017), “Science and Actions for Species Protection. Noah’s Arks for the 21st Century” (J. von Braun & M.S.S. with partners from Natural History Museums, Zoological and Botanical Gardens, 13-14 May 2019) and in our first successful and widely disseminated e-book, Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility. Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health (J. von Braun, V. Ramanathan & W. Al-Delaimy, Springer Open 2020).

Other PAS meetings have also dealt with this interaction between scientific progress and social development, as well as the understanding of the epistemological structure involved and the ethical requirements, which has played an important role in the life and work of the Academy. The meetings on “Discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals” (M.S.S. & J. Sachs, 27 May 1999), “The Cultural Values of Science” (N. Cabibbo, W. Arber & M.S.S., 8-11 Nov. 2002), “The Signs of Death” (J.L. Bernat, C. Estol & M.S.S., 11-12 Sep. 2006) and on “Human right to Water” (Card. C. Hummes, L. Liberman & M.S.S., 23-24 Feb. 2017) testify to this persistent commitment. As proved by our meetings on “Bread and Brain, Education and Poverty” (A.M. Battro, I. Potrykus & M.S.S., 4-6 Nov. 2013) and “Big Data and Science” (W. Arber, T. Gojobori & R. Vicuña, 17-18 Nov. 2015), information technologies and the digital processing of information have transformed our way of life and our way of communicating in space and time over the last decades. Consequently, today we must consider connectivity as part of human dignity insofar as it responds to our relational being in search of truth, goodness and beauty, and therefore consider “Connectivity as a Human Right” (J. von Braun, R. Prodi & A. Battro, 10 Oct. 2017).

In this line of interaction, PAS has always had in mind the application of science to global food problems and, in particular, to solve the tragedy of hunger. The proceedings of the study week on “Reduction of Food Loss and Waste at the Beginning of the 21st Century” (J. von Braun, 11-12 Nov. 2019), and “Science for Survival and Sustainable Development” (V.I. Keilis-Borok & M.S.S., 12-16 Mar. 1999), highlighted the special role of modern biotechnology in the improvement of plant characteristics.

In view of the distorted way in which these scientific results, and in particular those concerning genetically improved plant varieties, have been presented to the public, the Academy in the meeting “Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development” (I. Potrykus, W. Arber & N. Cabibbo, 15-19 May 2009) identified and embraced beneficial new technologies for more precise and targeted improvements in agricultural plants, involving targeted alterations to the genome sequence or the transfer of specific genes from one organism to another. All food plants have been genetically modified in the past; such modification is therefore a very common process in both nature and in human activity. In short, as Emeritus President Werner Arber has repeatedly stated, especially at the Bishops’ Synod on The New Evangelization at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI (“Contemplation on the Relations Between Science and Faith”, 12 Oct. 2012), “these genetic modifications are nothing more than a copy of the evolutionary processes in nature”. So, genetically modified food plants, if they follow the dictates of science and ethics, can play an important role in improving agricultural products and human nutrition, as well as contributing to solve the problem of world hunger (St John Paul II, 2000). The clearest example is the so-called “golden rice” developed by our Academician I. Potrykus, a genetically modified rice variety that incorporates the genes needed to create a precursor of vitamin A, a deficiency which affects millions of people. This is just one of several plant modifications that have the potential to produce healthier food for everyone.

A synthetic approach to both the problem of climate change and the problem of food and hunger is pursued by President Joachim von Braun, using basic science as a platform for resilience to human and planetary challenges, especially hunger. This very topical approach started with the meeting on “Food safety and healthy diets” (12-13 Sep. 2018), continued with “Food loss and waste reduction” (Nov. 2019), and fully developed in “Resilience of people and ecosystems under climate stress” (V. Ramanathan, 13-14 July 2022) with the recognition of the multiple and interconnected current challenges, be it climate, biodiversity loss or inequality, in search of a science-based, holistic solution.

From the point of view of cosmology and anthropology, the results of the meetings on “Evolving Concepts of Nature” (2014) and “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility” (2014) show that cosmology between the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century is increasingly improving our understanding of the place of humans and their planet in the universe. The “wonder” (τὸ θαυμάζειν) that Plato and Aristotle put at the origin of thought is today witnessed in a particular way by astrophysical and physical sciences. Questions about the origin of the world are now being re-examined, thanks to the reflections of those who study the physical universe, its history and its laws. Encounters such as “Subnuclear Physics: Past, Present and Future” (W. Arber & A. Zichichi, 30 Oct.-2 Nov. 2011) have enabled us to understand the basic components of matter, and we are on our way to an increasingly coherent and unitary understanding of the whole structure of natural reality, which we have discovered is made up not only of matter and energy, but also of information and form. The latest developments in astrophysics are also particularly striking: they further confirm the great unity of the universe, which becomes clear at each new stage of our understanding of reality. Biology too, with the development of genetics, makes it possible to penetrate into the fundamental processes of life and to intervene in the gene pool of certain organisms by imitating some of these natural evolutionary processes, as demonstrated, for example, by the meetings on “New Developments in Stem Cell Research: induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and their Possible Applications in Medicine” (16-17 Apr. 2012), “Evolving Concepts of Nature” (24-28 Oct. 2014), “Cell Biology and Genetics” (23-24 Oct. 2017), to a large extent organised by W. Arber, N. Le Douarin and E.M. De Robertis, as also more recently by E. Fuchs and H. M. Blau on “Looking to the Future: Stem Cells, Organoids and Regenerative Medicine” (5-6 May 2022).

Beyond planetary and social emergencies, the Academy has organised numerous study weeks on human beings, their origins, their bodies, the masterpiece that is their brain, and their death. For example, the meeting on “Neurosciences and the Human Person” (8-10 Nov. 2012) organised by our Academicians A. Battro, S. Dehaene, and W. Singer, highlighted the areas in which the scientific approach is advancing and which are at the heart of what it means to be a human person. The rediscovery of the centrality of the human brain and its evolution relative to higher mammals, the processes of consciousness, the capacity for evaluation, decision-making and self-control, the formation of beliefs in a social group, the sense of self, the importance of education for the development of the human brain, as well as the philosophical explanation of the human soul as an incorruptible form from the activities of knowing and willing that give the body being and life, are amalgamated in a new synthesis that shows the status of the human being in times of the predominance of knowledge provided by the natural sciences. In addition, PAS has not neglected the major theme of the main stages of human morphological and cultural evolution with the workshops on “What Is Our Real Knowledge About the Human Being?” (N. Cabibbo & M.S.S., 4-6 May 2006), “Émergence de l’être humain” (Card. R. Etchegaray, H. de Lumley & M.S.S., Apr. 2013) and “Who was who and who did what, where and when?” (Y. Coppens, Apr. 2019). In this respect I also find very important the conclusion of the recent meeting on “Symbols, Myths and Religious Sense in Humans Since the First” (Y. Coppens & M.S.S., 27-28 Oct. 2021), organised by our Academician Y. Coppens, who passed away very recently. Some of us would tend to trace the notion of “religious” sense back to 10 million years ago, to the age of the common ancestors of Chimpanzees and Humans; others would, on the contrary, wait for biological evidence (level of cerebral complexity) or archaeological evidence (manufactured objects, burials, rock art) before daring to attach “religious sense” to a Prehuman (Lucy, for example) or to a Human. But whether this sense is 10 million years old, 3 million years old or 500,000 years old, “one fine day” (which can be of a certain, progressive, duration), a “soul (ἡ ψυχὴ τὰ ὄντα πώς ἐστι πάντα)” (Aristotle, De anima, 431 b 20) does emerge from a long history of 14 billion years of Matter and 4 billion years of Life, giving unity to the Hominidae family whom, despite its hitherto unsuspected antiquity, we can thus call Human.

It is impossible to list here the many other discoveries and results that have expanded our knowledge and influenced our individual and social view of the human being and the world that the Academy has dealt with in this passage of the century: from advances in computational logic to the chemistry of materials, from “Education for the Twenty-First Century” (N. Cabibbo, P.J. Léna & M.S.S., Nov. 2001) and “The Educated Brain” (A.M. Battro, K.W. Fischer, & P.J. Léna, PAS & Cambridge Univ. Press, Nov. 2003) to “Children and Sustainable Development: A Challenge for Education” (P. Léna & A. Battro, 13-15 Nov. 2015) and “Narcotics: Problems and Solutions of This Global Issue” (Queen Silvia of Sweden & M.S.S., Nov. 2016), from “Emerging Basic Science Toward Solutions for People’s Wellbeing” (J. von Braun & M.S.S., Nov. 2018), from “The Revolution of Personalized Medicine” (A. Ciechanover, 8-9 Apr. 2019) to “Science’s Chances of addressing Covid for Survival” (J. von Braun, Oct. 2020), and “Impacts of Scientific Knowledge and Technology on Human Society and its Environment” (W. Arber, 25-29 Nov. 2016). Particularly topical in this regard is the meeting on “Robotics, AI and Humanity: Science, Ethics and Policy” (J. von Braun, M.S.S. & S. Zamagni, Springer Nature 2021) which continues the line of research undertaken with “Power and Limits of Artificial Intelligence” (W. Arber. A.M. Battro & S. Dehaene, Dec. 2016) on the idea that robots and AI are human-made instruments that can make the world a better place if they are united for the common good and the greater good of peace. Indeed, if technological progress increases inequalities, dependence, violence, arrogance and war, it is not true progress.

I do not want to conclude without noting another intense field of activity of the Academy, following an explicit request from Pope Francis. Among the challenges facing the Church and the world today is the evil of human trafficking and modern slavery, the fight against which Pope Francis has led so courageously throughout his Pontificate, with the strong support of the Academy from the beginning of his mission. The trade in human beings is something that the Pope witnessed first-hand when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and which he then brought to our attention. Such indications from the Pope, coupled with the Academy’s accumulated scientific experience, led to the development of many initiatives and meetings devoted to the fight against human trafficking and to the worldwide abolition of slavery. On 2 December 2014, at our headquarters in the Casina Pio IV, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Orthodox religious leaders signed a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery as a public statement of their commitment to work together in spiritual and practical action to eradicate this crime against humanity and restore dignity and freedom to its victims: “Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity”. This decisive statement was prepared at the meeting on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery” (Card. R. Etchegaray & M.S.S., 2-3 Nov. 2013). Thanks to the Academy’s intervention in a meeting at Casina Pio IV in 2015 with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, addressing trafficking is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) states that countries will “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, and modern slavery and human trafficking, and ensure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms”. In recognition of this, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences organised a meeting on “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of the Cities” (M.S.S., 21 July 2015) with the Mayors of many prominent cities of the world, and hosted the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Summits of “African Women Judges Trafficking in Persons and Organized Crime”, to convene female judges, religious leaders, philanthropists, and academics to strategize about how to accelerate legal action to combat human trafficking across Africa. It is above all a question of recognising and being aware of the problem. Unfortunately, the new forms of slavery that go hand in hand with poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, isolation and inequality do not only affect migrant peoples, but also and above all take place in our countries, however developed they may be, in our states or provinces, in our cities, and tragically even in more families than one could imagine. What we also need to prevent modern slavery are more appropriate laws and the application of existing good laws. The human body, the image of God incarnate, cannot be bought or sold either in part or as a whole; it is only given freely for love. For example, the so-called Nordic model to combat prostitution is based on the principles that no human body should ever be for sale or purchase, and that demand is one of the main causes of prostitution. It criminalises the buyer, while the trafficked person is viewed sympathetically, as a victim. Prostitution has declined in countries where this model has been introduced, as trafficking activities bleed profits. Lastly, it is necessary to take care of the rehabilitation of the victims so that they can be reintroduced into society with jobs for the common good. An important lesson learned from the experience of the various good practices in this context is that a long-term strategy including rescue, reception, human and religious education, job or even vocational training, legal support and social integration is required to ensure the reintegration of victims into society. No less decisive have been the PAS meetings organised by our Academician Dr Frank Delmonico for the establishment of ethical standards in organ donation and transplantation, as well as for access to organs and tissues for all, in order to prevent the crime against humanity of organ trafficking and transplant tourism. At the “Summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism” (F. Delmonico, Feb. 2017), the PAS joined WHO and the Transplantation Society in endorsing the Concept of National Self-Sufficiency which dictates that a nation should address its burden of end-stage organ disease with strong living and deceased donation programs, and combat as criminal the use of vulnerable people for organ trafficking.

Looking back on this Academic year, I note with admiration and appreciation the many important PAS declarations aimed at overcoming the various emergencies that afflict us, whether on “Science and innovations for a sustainable food system” (J. von Braun in collaboration with the UN Food Summit – 21-22 Apr. 2021); on the “Health of the Seas and Oceans” (J. von Braun & R. Danovaro, 8 June 2022); or to strengthen “Resilience of People and Ecosystems under Climate Stress” (J. von Braun & V. Ramanathan, 13-14 July 2022). Equally important are the meetings and declarations on “Reconstructing the Future for People and Planet” (H.J. Schellnhuber, 9-10 June 2022) in a sustainable way thanks to bioeconomy, and on “Covid-19: New Insights” (J. von Braun, 4-5 Nov. 2021), addressing the health problems caused by the pandemic with equity-oriented action. The second Summit on “The Role of Science in the Development of International Standards of Organ Donation and Transplantation” (F. Delmonico, 21-22 June 2021) was also decisive in the fight against human trafficking. The workshop on “Dreaming of a Better Restart” (J. von Braun, S. Zamagni & G. Beliz, 14 May 2021) in collaboration with our sister Academy, the PASS, was crucial to focalize attention on the socio-economic problems of the IMF debt of many countries.

In addition, our Statement on the need to engage science and politics to “Preventing Nuclear War and War Against Civilian Populations” (J. von Braun & M.S.S., 8 Apr. 2022) was particularly appreciated and timely. The existence of nuclear weapons poses serious security and safety threats to the countries possessing them and to the whole world. The Academy has always promoted “Science for peace” (N. Cabibbo & W. Arber, Jubilee Plenary Session, 10-13 Nov. 2020) and has spoken out fervently since the beginning of the nuclear age on the need to prevent the further use of nuclear weapons at all costs by proposing universal disarmament, as in the meeting “Less Nuclear Stocks and More Development” (Card. S. Tomasi & M.S.S., 10 Nov. 2014) with experts from the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as from other countries like U.S., Russia, Italy, Norway, etc. and institutions as the UN, Global Priorities, etc.

In brief, it is remarkable how the President and the Academicians who organised these meetings picked up on current challenges by identifying specific scientific opportunities to address each of these problems and to work with experienced people who know how to use science to solve them.

Last but not least, I would like to thank God “from whom every gift comes” for having given me the health, strength and grace to carry out this important service to the Church and to humanity for 24 years. I do not want to end without special thanks to St John Paul II, the Pope who appointed me, as well as to Benedict XVI and Francis, who confirmed me, for their solicitude towards me and the Academy. I would also like to thank Nicola Cabibbo (who died in August 2010, when he was still President of our Academy), President Emeritus for Life Werner Arber, and of course, Joachim, with whom I have developed close ties of friendship and to whom I owe support and trust, without which nothing could have been done.

I thank all those who, in one way or another, have proactively participated in PAS activities. In particular, I would like to express my thanks to the Cardinal of Honduras, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, advisor to the Pope, for his admiration for the Academy and his willingness to collaborate and build a bridge with our beloved Pope Francis. Our shared wish is that he becomes a member of PAS. I would also like to thank dear Cardinal Turkson for accepting to be my successor as Chancellor, and I wish him every success in this decisive position for the good of the Church and humanity in these scientific times. I also thank Bishop Robert Barron for his participation and excellent lecture, as well as Archbishop Dr Dr hc mult Antje Jackelén for her participation and important theological concepts.

I would like to quote Pope Pius XI, who increased the Academy’s prestige by making it the Pope’s own “scientific senate” and who gave it its beautiful headquarters in the Casina Pio IV, when he said that “Amongst the many consolations with which divine Goodness has wished to make happy the years of our mission, I am happy to place that of our having being able to see not a few of those who dedicate themselves to the studies of the sciences mature their attitude and their intellectual approach towards religion. Science, when it is real cognition, is never in contrast with the truth of the Christian faith. Indeed, as is well known to those who study the history of science, it must be recognised on the one hand that the Roman Pontiffs and the Catholic Church have always fostered the research of the learned in the experimental field as well, and on the other hand that such research has opened up the way to the defence of the deposit of supernatural truths entrusted to the Church”.

I would like to endorse the intentions and wishes expressed by fellow Academician Max Peruz in his letter to me shortly before his death: “Since 1961 I have attended and organised many study weeks and enjoyed that privilege very much, but the greatest privilege was to be a member of that unique body, a truly international Academy, covering all the natural sciences. I came across there many more people whom I would never otherwise have met, such as the Indian physicist Menon, and then there was the wonderful setting, that Renaissance court, overlooking the back of St Peter’s like the view of the Matterhorn from Zermatt. I think the Pontifical Academy is a unique institution and I very much hope the Holy Father and his successors will continue to give it their support. I would be delighted if you were able to communicate any of this letter to the Holy Father and assure him again how much I appreciated my Membership” (The Cultural Values of Science, ed. cit., p. XXXII).

What is it that unites this quarter-century-long quest to all the research done by the Academy since its creation in 1603 if not the selfless love of truth? The testimony given by the Presidents of the most important Academies of the world on the occasion of the celebration of the “Four-Hundredth Anniversary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 1603-2003” (N. Cabibbo & M.S.S., 9 Nov. 2003) proves this point. May this Pontifical Academy be recognised and admired by future generations precisely for this epistemic project of truth that is science carried forward by the Academicians of the PAS with no other interest than truth and its fruits of liberation.

I want to end by saying that I feel like the “useless servant” of the Gospel of Luke, because all the good I have done derives from divine help and the collaboration of Academicians and staff, many of whom have become true friends. Errors and omissions are my own, for which I apologise. Thank you very much!