In the few last hours, in some Italian and foreign websites, you may find some misleading information about Jack Andraka’s prize, in the Sciacca Award “Research and Development” section.
To avoid that anyone may misinterpret the news, damage to the Award and exploit the same Jack, a few clarifications are needed.
1) The International “Giuseppe Sciacca” Award is a charity event organized by a voluntary-work association.
2) In the last years, the ceremony is held in the Great Hall of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, the at Janiculum, in an extraterritorial area.
3) The Vatican is not involved in the organization of the event, nor in the decisions about the awards’ conferring.
4) His Holiness, Pope Francis, did not speak at the ceremony and did not give any recognition.
5) Jack did not meet Pope Francis during his stay in Rome.
6) Jack Andraka’s Prize was conferred by the Secretary-General of the Award, Vasiliki Bafataki, as you can see in the photo in this post.
7) As you can read in the official statement by the jury, the “Research and Development” prize was awarded to Jack Andraka because “he, only fifteen years old, has developed a low-cost sensor that allows rapid and early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, ovarian and lung cancer, having conducted the research at the School of Medicine of Johns Hopkins University”.
As above, it’s false what you can read in several online articles from the last few hours, stating that Jack Andraka was awarded “by the Vatican” or even “by Pope Francis”.
In the end, it is baseless the statement, quoted in quotes, that Jack Andraka declares to have received the Prize “by the Vatican, especially as a gay scientist”. For two reasons: first, because the recognition, as mentioned, is not received by the Vatican, but just by the jury of Sciacca Award; second, because the prize was not conferred “as a gay scientist”, but for his discoveries in the medical scientific field.
Moreover, Jack Andraka has already denied this news, explaining the Presidency of the Award that such quotation marks does not reflect his own thinking; his statements during the interview (by phone, through intercontinental links), may have been misinterpreted.
This is the mail sended by Jack Andraka to the secretery of Premio Sciacca:
I never said that the Pope gave me the Award and I never said anything about gay category of awards. Probably some journalists changed my words. My preference is something I do not feel shamed about BUT my work is another matter and field.
So, difficulties in the communication and errors in the translation may have generated bad interpretations of the news, which could arouse manipulation.
For this reason, the Presidency of Sciacca Award has considered appropriate to invite all the journalists and bloggers to check carefully the information accuracy in the articles, posts and comments on websites (journalistic or not) and social networks, both Italian and foreigners, in accordance with the truth of facts and professional ethics.
We also remember that the young Jack Andraka, just 16 years old, not yet adult for the Italian law, is protected by the Charter of Treviso for the minors’ protection.
Through this note, the Presidency of the International Prize for “Giuseppe Sciacca” means to protect itself from any speculation, misinformation and manipulation that may occur either in respect of the award and Jack Andraka, reserving itself the right to take the opportune measures.