The Vatican is soon to host an address on how bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are being used in the modern-day slave trade.
To be held today at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) in the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, the talk by Bank of Montreal senior manager Joseph Mari is to provide an overview of the role cryptocurrencies play in money laundering, while highlighting the potential of blockchain to help the unbanked.
The second of a three-day long event, itself part of an even larger effort led by Pope Francis to eradicate slavery entirely by 2020, the address is expected to be given to an audience including the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and other senior church leaders.
Since the Pope was named the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013, he has made slavery a top priority of the church, helping inspire the recent PASS efforts, according to an internal document provided to CoinDesk.
In addition to today’s address on blockchain, the group has held other workshops, seminars and plenary meetings culminating in the organization’s “core” recommendation to resettle slaves where they are found, if they so choose, rather than repatriate them.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with CoinDesk, Mari detailed the purpose of his particular address, and the potential bigger picture role it could play in fighting against what the International Labour Organization estimates is a $150 billion forced labor industry.
Mari said of the audience:
“Blockchain and cryptocurrency needs to be on their radar, it needs to be recognized as something that is current, is being utilized and the quicker the learning curve is surmounted, the quicker we can start working towards the risks that are presented.”
The day’s proceedings are scheduled to kick off with the celebration of mass by H.E. Msgr. Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who is also the bishop of Argentina and chancellor of PASS.
Following chancellor Sorondo’s blessing at Casina Pio IV in Vatican City, Mari is scheduled to present the most recent results of Project Protect, founded two years ago to teach AML officers how to identify patterns in their own transactions that might be evidence of human trafficking.
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