15 January, 2008

Pope Benedict declines "Wisdom"'s invitation

Pope Benedict was invited to visit the commencement ceremony at the Roman University "La Sapienza" ("The Wisdom") and give a talk. A number of faculty and students took offense to the invitation, demonstrated, wrote a letter to the rector, hung signs across campus telling the Pope he wasn't welcome, etc. Some of the signs recalled Giordano Bruno, others Galileo Galilei. Some have misquoted Benedict as having said 16 years ago that the trial of Galileo was reasonable. (In fact, he quoted the opinion, then called it "drastic".)

Today, Pope Benedict decided to decline the invitation.

Not all scientists at La Sapienza concurred with the protest. Bruno Dalla Piccola, a professor of medical genetics, expressed outrage at what he called the proposed censoring of the pope, noting that the faculty found no reason for offense when the Raelians some years ago. Unfortunately, Dalla Piccola appears to be one of a shrinking minority.

Keep this episode in mind the next time someone tries to explain some aspect of Catholicism with the ridiculous notion that "after all, Rome is in Italy."

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