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 Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit

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RR Phantom

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Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit Vide
PostSubject: Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit   Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit Icon_minitimeWed Jan 16, 2008 7:08 pm

IT IS a big deal when the Pope agrees to speak at an event that is not church-related. It is an even bigger deal when public protest forces him to cancel.

Veteran Vatican-watchers said they had never seen anything like it. Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday abruptly called off plans to speak at Rome's prestigious La Sapienza University, after students and professors rallied to proclaim him pontiff non grata.

More than 60 professors signed a letter to the college's rector saying the Pope's appearance, which had been scheduled for the opening of the academic year today, was an affront to people of science and to the secular nature of the institution.

Students staged a sit-in on Tuesday, waving banners scrawled with angry slogans - "Knowledge needs neither fathers nor priests"- and announcing what they dubbed "anti-cleric week".

"This Pope unfortunately is not particularly friendly to science," said Andrea Frova, a physicist and one of the La Sapienza academics who signed the petition.

Professor Frova and the others said they were offended by a comment made by the Pope 17 years ago, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, that called the heresy trial of the 17th-century astronomer Galileo "reasonable". (In fact, he was quoting another philosopher in that passage, part of a long speech on the Catholic Church and Europe.)

The issue goes beyond Galileo, Professor Frova said, and to the church's position today on stem cell research, evolution and genetic engineering. "History changes, the scientific problems are different today than in the time of Galileo, but the attitudes of the church stay the same," he said.

The Pope would be welcome at the university to debate these issues, Professor Frova said, but not to deliver a speech in which there would be no opportunity for discussion or response.

Vatican officials initially said the Pope would go forward with the appearance, but the prospect of ugly public displays apparently changed Vatican minds. Given the incidents of the past few days, a brief media statement said, "it was considered opportune" to scrap the event.

Is the Pope hostile towards science? Benedict is a strong intellectual who has emphasised the importance of reason in the practice of faith. Yet he also says evolution is the work of a divine creator, and has helped defeat Italian laws that liberalised scientifically assisted fertility.

Italy lives in the shadow of the Vatican, and mainstream politicians rarely challenge or criticise the Pope. Officials in the Government and in opposition parties were quick to lament the protests that waylaid Benedict.

The Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, expressed solidarity with the Pope and condemned the "unacceptable attitudes of intolerance". The left-wing Minister for Family Policy, Rosy Bindi, who has clashed with the church on reproductive health and similar issues, said that she was "very saddened" by the episode. "This is not a pretty day for our democratic republic," she said.

"You don't have to agree with what he says, but the right to speak must not be denied to anyone," said the Minister for Universities, Fabio Mussi.

Pier Ferdinando Casini, head of a main Christian Democratic party, said that with professors like this "we must fear for the future of our children".


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CovOps

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Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit Vide
PostSubject: Re: Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit   Protests force Pope to cancel uni visit Icon_minitimeWed Jan 16, 2008 8:18 pm

Great!

That fucking mystic should be boycotted wherever he goes...
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