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NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT

Ultimo Aggiornamento: 05/01/2014 14.16
13/01/2008 19.38
 
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Posted today in the preceding page:

Beware, they are out to get the Pope! - A commentary by Renato Farina in Libero on
the scandalous anti-Pope protest at la Sapienza University, which saw nothing wrong
in signing an academic agreement with Al-Azhar University and its extremist head...
Plus, Repubblica samples Italian politician's views on the issue... And an Apcom
situationer on the issue. Translated.

The Holy Father celebrated Mass to commemorate the Baptism of the Lord
at the Sistine Chapel and baptized 13 babies.

Angelus today - Photos and excerpts from the Pope's messages.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH



Once again, the Patriarch of Moscow manages to say a whole lot of platitudes without saying anything new. Part of what he said in the 30 GIORNI interview reported here is in an item posted yesterday in NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH. I am posting this here only because Apcom gave it a Benedict headline and angle, which is, of course, misleading. And also because he is the Patriarch of Moscow, one must have him for the record.


Alexei II says the Pope is a mediator
between pluricentennial tradition and
contemporary demands



ROME, Jan. 13 (Apcom) - The Pope's decision to issue the Motu Proprio which liberalized the use of the traditional Mass is 'an internal question' for the Catholic Church but the Pope is trying "to find effective ways of harmonizing a pluricentennial experience with the objective reality of contemporary demands."

This was stated by Alexei-II, Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, in a wide-ranging interview given to the monthly magazine 30 GIORNI published and edited by former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.

"I see in this act (the Motu Proprio)," Alexei continued, "one of the most valid aspects of the work of the present Pope, Benedict XVI. I think that the issue of liturgical expression and relations among the different components of the Roman Catholic Church are internal questions. But for us - a Church where the idea of tradition has great significance - this tension between trying to find effective ways of harmonizing a pluricentennial experience with the objective reality of contemporary demands is understandable and very familiar."

Alexei asked what he thought of Pope Benedict's statement that he believes it is his task to realize the still uncompleted work of Vatican-II, following the logic of continuity, not that of rupture.

"We welcome approvingly every attempt to overcome divisions, but it's a different thing about the nature of these divisions. Every situation deserves its own scrupulous attention. Understanding the causes helps to find solutions. With all due respect about differences, the search for thr things that unite rather than divide is more effective in most cases. Without falling into excessive optimism, I would say that this is where I see the prospects for relations between Orthodox and Catholics." [But who's been raising all kinds of obstacles, really - who always find some new pretext for 'division'?]

"The Russian Orthodox Church," he said, "has always invited - and continues to do so - cultivating an equal-footing and respectful dialog between religions, cultures and civilizations at the national, regional and international levels. It is particularly important to unite efforts to help the development of international law, participation in overcoming situations of conflict, and understanding without preconceptions the various models of interaction among religion, state and society."

Still, he says, "the process of reconstructing unity requires time and serious commitment, and this holds even for those who share the same faith, as in the case of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, which was recently reunited with us after 80 years of separation."

He continued:

"Russia is unique in the world, because there, Islam and Christianity have coexisted peacefully for a thousand years. There has never been a religious war in Russia, where other nations have known many bloody religious wars. T his shows that the Russian people have learned to live together, to have reciprocal respect, to appreciate what they owe each other, not to harbor offenses.

"I am convinced that representatives of other traditional religions, all together, can and should respond to the great number of challenges and burning problems, inviting their faithful to peace and concord. In fact, the conciliatory positions of religious leaders can serve to avoid many conflicts, to prevent the transformation of international conflicts into inter-religious conflicts, and to put a limit to the spread of dangerous pseudo-religious movements."

The Russian Patriarch believes religions today have a specific purpose: to unite in order to fight terrorism.

"I believe that the fight against terrorism should consist in depriving terrorists of the ground from which they arise - and today, this ground is religious ignorance, which is manifested in a lack of understanding by people of their own religious tradition and the morality linked to that tradition.

"The result is offending religious sentiments, profanation of sacred things, propagating selfishness and generalized license. All this together results in fanaticism.

"After 9/11," he concluded, "many actions have been undertaken against terrorists, but one must ask whether attention has been given accordingly to the religious convictions of these persons, and in taking anti-terrorist actions, whether these traditions have been taken respectfully into account. These are the questions that we have in evaluating global policy of the last few years."

====================================================================

Is he serious?!? What's not taken into account? Does anyone doubt or question the fact that Muslim terrorists use their religion to 'justify' their actions? How does understanding that help keep them from doing what they do?

I don't question that the Patriarch of Moscow is a man of God who is sincerely interested in everything any man of good will wants. I just have no patience for his posturing and games when it comes to relations with the Catholic Church.






[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 13/01/2008 20.08]
13/01/2008 23.00
 
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nutcase students


Goodness!! Considering the fact that Marxism or even 'Leftism' has long been considered un-realizable in real society (it does sound great on paper), those Professors and students definitely need some help!! [SM=g27813]

Maybe they'd like to go on a field trip and spend some time in an old East Germany like place.
Of course, protesting Government officials at University (don't think the Pope would have been invited) would lead to a nice little police beating and a wonderful government sponsored time at 're-orientation camp'
Or, if you're lucky and your family has some connections, labour camp.

This silly nostalgia about Socialism/Communism is just insane!
As I said. Poor kids. Somebody help them!!

On the other hand, I do think it's good that Joseph Ratzinger still provokes.
That those lunatics still consider him as one of their main opponents.
That they find him important enough to stage this silly rally.

No comment on the Christophobia/Islamomania - sad but quite common in European intellectual circles - and the media - these days.

Now, let's just hope that His Holiness will receive the protection he deserves.

Otherwise, since I've become quite protective over him, I'll have to go down there and and teach those kids some lessons!! [SM=x40795]
14/01/2008 00.58
 
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THE VATICAN'S 'EDUCATION MINISTER' ON THE LA SAPIENZA ISSUE



"The ostracism is incredible!
It was Ratzinger who 'cleared'
Galileo's condemnation"

By Orazio La Rocca

La Repubblica's principal Vatican corrrespondent Orazio La Rocca had an interview with Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, published in today's paper, and translated here.

I don't think it's me, but I have read and re-read the original article and my translation, and I still find this whole interview weird - the cardinal is not really answering the questions posed to him and he rambles off about John Paul II. Judge for yourself. He does make one excellent point which no one else has mentioned before - and which I must admit I did not think to look up - and I have bolded that part in the translation.



Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Polish, 69, is the Pope's principal collaborator in matters of Catholic education, almost his University Minister, being Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Seminaries and Institutes of Study, as well as Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

An expert, therefore, who does not understand the reason why Benedict's visit to La Sapienza has become such an issue, especially since the university was established in April 1303 by another Pope , Boniface VIII, born Benedetto Caetani.


Cardinal Grocholewski, 67 professors and some student groups at the La Sapienza University are opposing the Pope's visit because they accuse the Pope of 'obscurantism'. What do you say to this?
It's a very questionable initiative. [Questionable?!?!?! What an understatement!] What is obscurantist is to block the visit of Benedict XVI, who, besides being Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, and Successor to St. Peter, is also a man of great culture who has always been open to dialog and confrontation.

Let us not close ourselves up but rather open up to listen to others, as French President Nicholas Sarkozy said in his speech at the Lateran.


Eminence, but as a university man yourself, what do you think about this opposition to the Pope?
As I said, these are quite questionable. I have been going around for years to various universities around the world but I have never heard this kind of criticism. [Yes, but that's irrelevant. How many universities outside Rome get to be visited by a Pope, anyway?]

I recently visited the University of Prague, at the invitation of its rector, who is an atheist. During our talks, he always underscored the importance of dialog, especially with those who hold different opinions. And he praised the role played by the theological faculties in the university. And now here in Rome, they are rejecting a visit by the Pope. It's incredible!


Why do you think it is at La Sapienza that this issue has come up?
I can only ask how one can contest a figure as elevated and as profound as Benedict XVI. He's a pastor, but also a great scholar and excellent professor who has always been open to dialog and confrontation, who is able to listen to everyone's arguments, even those who do not agree with him, obviously without renouncing his own identity. As his great predecessor John Paul II has taught us all.


But Papa Wojtyla was also the object of criticism when he came to La Sapienza in 1991 to receive a doctorate.
The lesson left to us by John Paul II is cannot be equalled because all his life, he listened to everyone, he visited anybody without thought of their politics, social condition or religion. He never allowed himself to be conditioned by anyone because it was very important to him to encounter people through dialog. [What is he doing? He's not answering the question!]


The 67 professors are accusing Ratzinger of obscurantism because in 1990, he called the trial of Galileo 'just'.[Unfortunately, this newsman did not do his homework and is just taking the protesters at their word!]
To judge a speech through a summary, and moreover, to cite it out of context, is always dangerous.

But as far as Galileo is concerned, it was Cardinal Ratzinger himself, in fact, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who initiated for the Pope (John Paul II) the proceedings that annulled the ancient Church condemnation.

What is obscurantist, instead, is preventing the Pope from visiting La Sapienza. I hope it won't come to that.


Could you tell us at what point it would be wise to cancel the visit?
I would say that if we close ourselves off to dialog then we have no future. President Sarkozy reminded us of this at the Lateran University. It would be a defeat for all. As unpardonable as it would be to cut off the Christian roots of Italian and European culture. To deny them would be to be ignorant. [What is this obsession with Sarkozy? And how much more non-sequitur can this answer be? All in all, not quite the sort of interview I imagined the Vatican's 'education minister' would give!?]

Repubblica, 13 gennaio 2008

====================================================================

Cowgirl, I appreciate those comments! Me, despite all the evidence constantly on display, I still cannot believe what stupidities blindly prejudiced people can do - even supposedly rational beings like professors who teach physcis for a living - without seemingly being aware they are being stupid!

In polemics as well as in journalism, one is served best by stating objective facts, but neither these anti-Pope elements nor the media that mindlessly - or deliberately - reports allegations by rote, bother to check out objective facts.

But the dumbing-down of a media-conditioned society just goes on and is even worsening. Aggravated by the Internet, because now, the sources - which are also the means - of misinformation and disinformation have become infinite!




[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/11/2011 01.55]
14/01/2008 01.53
 
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RE: La Sapienza
How is it that a small group of leftists on a campus can succeed to the extent that they already have? It is scandalous really. Have the rest of the lecturing corps and students lost their tongues and nerve until almost too late? Thank you for the Libero article, Teresa. Is it a widely read paper/magazine? I hope so!

Well, Papa Ratzinger is used to leftist students and disruptive elements from his Tuebingen years in the 1960's, so he'll probably manage very well, thank you very much. I've always thought La Sapienza is a first class university, but it clearly is not, seeing that a bunch of semi-terrorists have been given far too much leeway.

14/01/2008 03.21
 
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BENEDICT XVI CELEBRATES THE MASS 'AD ORIENTEM' IN PUBLIC

Of course, he does it daily in his private chapel, but for the first time since he became Pope, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass facing the altar today in public at the Sistine Chapel, and it is news. Here's the report by the news agency AGI, translated here:





VATICAN CITY, Jan. 13 (AGI) - In the splendor of the Sistine Chapel, the Pope celebrated Mass facing the altar like the rest of the congregation and gave his homily from a chair on the right side of the altar instead of from the center.

Indeed, for today's Mass of the Baptism of Jesus, Benedict XVI chose to use the Sistine Chapel's built-in altar under Michelangelo's Last Judgment, and no longer the Novus Ordo altar wheeled in on a mobile platform for John Paul II, and even for Benedict himself up till now.

An anticipatory note from the Office of the Pontiff's Liturgical Celebrations explained, "It was decided to do this in order not to alter the beauty and harmony of this architectural jewel, preserving its structure according to the ritual point of view, while using a possibility allowed by current liturgical norms. This means that at certain parts of the Mass, the Pope will be facing away from the faithful but towards the Cross, thus orienting the attitude and the disposition of the faithful assembled."



For the rest, however, the Mass was celebrated according to the ordinary rite, or Paul VI's Mass .

Before becoming Pope, in his book Introduction to the spirit of the liturgy, published in 2001, Joseph Ratzinger had expressed the hope for a return to celebrating the Mass with both the celebrant and the congregation facing 'ad Orientem', symbolically towards the East, 'the direction from which the Lord will come' - as it was for centuries before the 1970 liturgical reform.

Ratzinger lamented that celebrating the Mass with the priest facing the people makes the priest the point of reference and everything appears to refer to him, thus 'the attention is less directed towards God".

He notes that "beyond' all changes, one thing has remained clear for all Christendom until the late 20th century: "that prayer 'ad orientem' is a tradition that goes back to early Christianity and is a fundamental expression of Christianity's synthesis of the cosmos and history" because the East signified the announcement of the 'coming of the Lord.'

But based on the 'presumed position of the celebrant' on the altar of St. Peter's Basilica, the authors of the 1970 liturgical reform coming out of Vatican-II decided instead that "the Eucharist should be celebrated verso populum (in the direction of the people)...and the altar should be disposed in such a way that the priest and the people can look at each other".

Cardinal Ratzinger disputed this as a supposed image of the Last Supper. "In no meal at the start of the Christian era did the head of an assembly at meal ever sit in front of the other participants. They were all seated or reclining on the convex side of a table usually shaped like a horseshoe."

But that was not as important, he points out, as the fact that 'the most visible consequence' of the post-conciliar reform was 'a new idea of the essence of liturgy as a communal meal'. The traditional Tridentine Mass, instead, was always essentially a commemoration of Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross, not a 'meal' or a feast for invited guests, as it became in Protestant tradition.

Indeed, Ratzinger disputes that the Eucharist could be "described appropriately by the terms 'meal' or 'feast'".

And the awareness that the priest and the faithful traditionally faced 'east' and the reason for this was lost through the centuries, to the point where the orientation started to be described as 'facing the altar' or 'the priest with his back turned to the people', which, the cardinal pointed out, "seemed rather absurd and unacceptable".


Just to refresh your memory, here's the video of the Pope's daily Mass
from RAI's birthday documentary last April:

gazetadarestauracao.blogspot.com/2008/01/missa-privada-do-p...

=====================================================================

And sure enough, the Anglophone news agencies reporting on today's Mass used the term celebrating 'with his back to the people'!





Pope turns back on congregation
in old mass ritual




VATICAN CITY, Jan. 13 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the congregation, re-introducing an old ritual that had not been used in decades.

The Pope used the Sistine Chapel's ancient altar set right against the wall under Michelangelo's dramatic depiction of the Last Judgment, instead of the altar placed on a mobile platform that allowed his predecessor John Paul II to face the faithful.

A statement by the Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar, where ballots are placed during papal elections, to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectonic jewel."

That meant that for the first time in this kind of celebration since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Pope occasionally turned his back on the faithful and faced the Cross. He also read his homily from an old wooden throne on the left of the altar used by Pius IX in the 19th century.

The conservative German-born pontiff is slowly reintroducing some of the old rituals phased out after Vatican II, which substituted Latin for local languages, modernized the Church and encouraged inter-religious dialogue.

In July, the Pope issued a decree allowing wider use of the old Latin mass, in what was regarded as a nod to Church traditionalists. He has also said he would like the centuries-old Gregorian chant to make a comeback.

During Sunday's mass commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, which was celebrated in Italian, the Pope baptized 13 babies, carefully pouring water on their heads from a golden shell.

He spoke about the significance of baptism, which marks the admission of a person in the community of Christians.

Later at his weekly Angelus blessing, the Pope paid tribute to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees celebrated on Sunday, saying children who are born and brought up in refugee camps should be offered a different future.

But he also had a message for migrants around the world, telling them to respect the law and never give in to violence.



Pope baptizes babies
in Sistine Chapel



VATICAN CITY, Jan. 13 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI baptized 13 babies in the Sistine Chapel during a Sunday Mass celebrated at the altar at the foot of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" wall fresco. '



In a departure from tradition, Benedict did not celebrate the Mass at a small altar set up to face the congregation. Instead, he celebrated it with his back to the congregation, which included the children's parents, godparents, grandparents and siblings.

Decades ago, priests routinely celebrated Mass at altars with their backs to parishioners, but after the modernizing changes of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, it became common practice for the celebrant to face the congregation.

The 80-year-old pontiff said it was a special joy for him to baptize the babies, the children of Vatican employees. He asked to families to raise the children with "faith, hope and charity."

As he was leaving the chapel at the end of the ceremony, the pope suddenly looked at his hand, glanced toward the floor and turned to an aide, apparently to say that his papal ring had slipped off. An aide found the ring near the altar and handed it back to the pontiff.

=====================================================================

Even Adnkronos, in its Italian service, used the 'back turned to the people' line in its report, translated here:
'

The Pope, back turned to the people,
baptizes 13 babies in the Sistine chapel



VATICAN CITY, Jan. 13 (ADNkronos) - Benedict XVI chose a synthesis of pre- and post-conciliar liturgy, turning his back to the faithful in the traditional manner while saying Paul VI's Mass in Italian.

He celebrated Mass at the altar found at the foot of Michelangelo's Last Judgment during a ceremony that also included administering Baptism to 13 babies.

The pre- and post-Conciliar 'mix' was almost a synthesis of the Pope's liturgical vision, which sees the reform promoted by Vatican-II, not as a rupture with respect to traditional precedent, but as an element of updating which should be read in continuity with tradition.

Ratzinger's aversion is well-known to what he has called 'excesses' in the modern interpretation of the liturgy - its musical aspects and a certain license in the behavior of both priest and congregation - all of which he sees as taking away the profound spirituality, devoid of exterior elements, with which the Mass should be experienced.

The Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations explained the innovations in an explanatory note yesterday. [The report goes on to quote from the Note reported here yesterday and quoted in the reports above.]

Some time during the celebration,the Pope's Fisherman's ring appeared to have slipped off his finger. He noticed it after the Mass, called the attention of one of his assistants, who found it on the carpet near the altar.



[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/01/2008 06.20]
14/01/2008 13.22
 
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Schismatic Groups Coming Home, Reports Vatican;
Cardinal Assesses Impact of 'Summorum Pontificum'

By Mary Shovlain


ROME, JAN. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Six months after Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter on the extended use of the 1962 missal, the Vatican says it is seeing fruits of reconciliation with Catholics who objected to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Summorum Pontificum, allows for more availability of the Latin-language Mass, a rite the document dubs the "extraordinary form." The letter, issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative), brought attention to the situation of schismatic groups such as the Society of St. Pius X, that refuse to celebrate the "Novus Ordo" Mass established by Vatican II.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos told ZENIT that after the July 7 document, one group has already asked to return to full communion with the Church.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, as the president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiae Dei, is the Vatican official in charge of facilitating the return to full ecclesial communion of people linked to the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

"We have already received responses [to the letter]," Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said. "Here in Rome we have a community that has asked to return and we have already begun mediating their full return."

Requests, he continued, are coming in from around the world: "Many of the faithful have contacted us, written and called, to say they want full communion."

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos clarified the current status of members of the Society of St. Pius X due to excommunications issued by the Vatican to group members in 1988, in the wake of the schismatic gesture by Lefebvre of ordaining four bishops illicitly.

He explained: "The excommunications for the consecration done without the Pope's permission affects only those bishops who carried out the consecration, and those bishops who received episcopal ordination in this illicit form in the Church, but it does not affect the priests or the faithful. Only those bishops are excommunicated."

According to the Vatican prelate, what is needed now is "to sew back together the ecclesial fabric, because our brothers - I know them, I know some of the bishops even better-- are all people of good will, people who want to be disciples of Jesus."

"In this moment," he continued, "with a little humility, with a little generosity, we can return to full communion, and the faithful want this because they do not want to participate in the rites when the priest is under suspension because the Church does not permit them to say Mass and absolve sins - so the faithful want this full return."

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said he hoped that everyone involved will continue "to work with the Holy Father to sew back together this unity so that these good people can have the fullness of holiness that comes from union with the only Church of Christ, founded upon Peter and his Successors."


14/01/2008 14.12
 
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MORE ON THE 'LA SAPIENZA' ISSUE



Some excellent commentary today in the Italian MSM on the absurd but very real hostility to the Pope by a dissident minority in Rome's largest and oldest university.

First, this editorial in Corriere della Sera, signed by one of its deputy editors, Pier Luigi Battista, translated here:



Elementary particles:
Voltaire's words apply
to the Pope as well

By Pierluigi Battista
Corriere della Sera
Jan. 14, 2008


Is it true freedom to prevent Benedict XVI from speaking at La Sapienza University?

And how can it be a manifestation of freedom to dissent by keeping anyone from speaking and expressing himself in a university? To drown him in whistles, intimidate, wish him silenced - all to demonstrate 'polemical freedom', as leftist politician Enrico Boselli said, exploiting this tempest of protest against the Pope's visit to La Sapienza?

What if a group of clerical bigots interrupted, say, a speech by the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi [militant atheist, anti-Catholic and anti-Pope]? Or if a squad of militant papal supporters prevented, say, a socialist meeting? Would they not be denounced by the anti-clericals and anti-Papists for going beyond bounds, for benighted intolerance and overweening arrogance?

Well then, how would that be any different from from the protests at La Sapienza now against the Pope?

They would say 'freedom to boo in a free state'. Fine, but it should be valid for all. Better still, that it was not valid at all.

If a hundred persons do not wish to see the Pope at the university and would seek to prevent the visit by their clamorous methods, then they are violating the right of those who wish to listen to the Pope.

Is it too much to ask that they keep their protests back until after they have heard what he has to say? Even in the theater, the most unruly claques wait until the singer has finished his song before letting loose their displeasure. After, not before.

Otherwise, it is not dissent but prejudice. Not reasonable opposition to an argument, but preventive deafness against any argument that may be against the dissident position. An attack against the person, not against his thesis.

In short, sheer intolerance.

How is it that so-called liberals and libertarians, and even politicians who are normally open and mild-mannered like Boselli, cannot understand such a simple thing?

They claim the Pope should not set foot in a secular university. They would object to the Pope in any circumstance!

What if a group of neo-fascist ultras physically block an entrance to the university to keep someone like Dario Fo from speaking. I doubt that Mr. Boselli would then simply put that down to 'freedom of polemics'.

They object further that if the Church aspires to a public role, to exercise a political role, then it should not be surprised if hostility is expressed, not to a faith but to a political position.

But organized hostility is something else, with the advocates of secularism set to stage an irreverent 'frocessione' during the event.
An a priori hostility, regardless of what the Pope will actually say or how he will say it.

Speaking out is not a crime. If it is not for dissidents, it is not for the Church. To carry out a political role, within the limits of the law, is a constitutional right to which the Church is not exempt.

Democracy is an arena, and if opposing thoughts are not allowed full ventilation, then what you have is a one-thought state, where the thought is dictated by who can whistle and boo the loudest.

Don't these supposed champions of liberty and tolerance always cite Voltaire on the unsuppressible right of anyone to express an opinion even if contrary to one's own?

Does Voltaire's lesson apply to everyone but not to the Pope?

Unfortunately, the dissidents of La Sapienza will not give up their disruptive plans. But at least, the champions of secularity could start by renouncing them. In the name of secularity as it should be properly understood.

Corriere della sera, 14 gennaio 2008



====================================================================


Those scientists who would censor the Pope
without having read him at all

By Andrea Tornielli
Il Giornale
Jan. 14, 2008



Some student organizations at La Sapienza have decided to greet the Pope with, among other things, a 'frocessione' (a procession 'venerating' homosexuals - 'frocci' in Italian), and starting today to Thursday, will 'prepare' the university with anti-clerical demonstrations to make known how unwelcome this illustrious visitor is. For them.

But the most disturbing aspect of the protests against the Pope's visit to the university is not in these pre-announced student demonstrations - though they always pose a threat to public order - but in their ideological motivators, a group of 63 professors, said to be mostly physicists.

These professors, in the past few days, have vented their bile against Benedict XVI - frantically signalling Stop! to the Pope's visit - in the pages of La Repubblica.

They claim that Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, is 'guilty' of having advocated in a lecture given on March 15, 1990, the words of scientific philosopher Paul Feyerabend that the Church hearings against Galileo had been 'just and reasonable'.

Those words, claim these 63 scientists, are 'offensive and humiliating' to science and therefore demand that the Pope's should not be allowed to come to La Sapienza.

One might suppose that these scientists are capable of reading that March 1990 lecture first, of looking up the entire text, and to check out what Cardinal Ratzinger actually said and the context in which he said it. Alas, one would be wrong.

It appears the scientists have based their militant stand on a citation they found in Wikipedia which they uncritically - and most unscientifically - picked up because it would attribute 'obscurantist' thinking to the future Pope.

Who, in fact, had expressed the opposite position, distancing himself from some modern rethinking about the Galileo case, and certainly not adapting it as his.

Regensburg once again! even if this time, the distortion comes after 18 years.

Readers of this newspaper can judge for themselves, from the excerpt of Ratzinger's lecture published herewith. Particularly, the words of the cardinal - who was a university professor for a quarter century and no stranger to dialog and confrontation with scientists and philosophers - in concluding the citations he gave, among them Feyerabend's:

"It would be absurd to construct on the basis of these statements a hurried apologetics [on the Galileo case]. Faith does not grow out of resentment and rejection of rationality, but from its fundamental affirmation and inscription in a much greater reasonableness."

The words of the persons he cited were obviously not Ratzinger's, who precisely said it would be 'absurd' to use them in order to claim that the Church was right in the Galileo case, and who reiterated that faith does not grow by rejecting rationality.

This is the person for whom the faith-reason relationship and the reasonableness of the Christian faith would become the identifying pillars of his Pontificate.

And yet, it isn't as if that 1990 Ratzinger text has remained unpublished and unavailable to newsmen, least of all to any researcher. It was published in Italy in 1992 in a book of writings by the Cardinal about the crisis of Europe.

And the protest letter of the 63 scientists is shown up to be a hardly-edifying example of 'scientific method'!

That protest, however, already gained something: The Pope will not be giving the lectio magistralis to mark this academic year opening - his speech has been labelled merely another 'intervention' [following 'interventions' by the Minister of Universities and by the mayor of Rome]. [NB: 'Intervention' in the European sense simply means participation in a program, usually by speaking.]

Il Giornale, 14 gennaio 2008


Here is a translation of the excerpt published by Il Giornale today:

WHAT CARDINAL RATZINGER
SAID ABOUT THE GALILEO CASE

From a lecture at the
University of Parma
March 15, 1990




In the past decade, the resistance of nature to manipulation by man has emerged as a new element in the overall cultural landscape. The question about the limits to science and the criteria to which it must be held has become inevitable.

Particularly significant in this change of intellectual climate, it seems to me, is a different way of looking today at the case of Galileo.

This event, which was hardly considered in the 17th century, was elevated to myth during the Enlightenment of the next century. Galileo was seen as the victim of the' medieval obscurantism which persists in the Church'.

Good and evil were separated by a clearcut line. On the one hand, the Inquisition - as the power which incarnated superstition, the enemy of freedom and of knowledge. On the other, natural science, represented by Galileo - here was the force for progress and human liberation from the chains of ignorance which kept man impotent before the forces of nature. The star of Modernity now shone over the dark night of the Middle Ages.

According to Ernst Bloch, the heliocentric system [the sun as the center of the universe, as Galileo believed], as well as the geocentric system [the earth as the center], were both based on undemonstrable premises. Among these, principally the premise of the existence of absolute space - something which was later refuted by the theory of relativity.

Curiously, it was Bloch himself, with his romantic Marxism, who was one of the very first in our time to contradict the Enlightenment myth, offering a new interpretation of what happened [with Galileo].

Bloch represents just one of the modern concepts of natural science. But the judgment he draws from it is surprising: "Once the relativity of motion was accepted as certain, the ancient human and Christian reference system has no right whatsoever to interfere in astronomical calculations and their heliocentric simplifications. Nevertheless, it has the right to remain faithful to its own concept of the earth in relation to human dignity,and to conceive of the earth around what has happened and will happen in this world itself."

If in Bloch's statement, two spheres of knowledge are still clearly differentiated with respect to their methodology - recognizing the limits as well as the rights for both - the synthetic [summarizing] judgment of the agnostic-skeptical philosopher Paul Feyerabend appears much more drastic.

He wrote: "The Church in the time of Galileo held to reason more than Galileo himself, by taking into consideration the ethical and social consequences as well of Galileo's doctrine. Its verdict on Galileo was rational and just, and only reasons of political opportunism would legitimize changing it."

From the viewpoint of the concrete consequences of Galileo's revolutionary thought, C. F. von Weizsacker went one step further, seeing the 'straightest line' leading from Galileo to the atomic bomb.

It would be absurd to construct on the basis of such statements a hurried apologetics [of the Church's action with respect to Galileo]. Faith does not grow out of resentment and rejection of rationality, but from its fundamental affirmation and inscription in a much greater reasonableness.

With this, I wanted to illustrate an emblematic case which proves to what point modernity's doubts about itself now involve even science and technology.

From «Svolta per l’Europa? Chiesa e modernità nell’Europa dei rivolgimenti», Edizioni Paoline, Roma 1992, pp. 76-79.




And now, a word from one of the dissenters, translated here from from La Stampa today. The arrogance and self-blinding stupidity are stunningly pathetic:


"There is no place for the Pope
among men of science"

By FLAVIA AMABILE


There were 10 of them - some of Italy's most authoritative contemporary names in physics. They met that day in November to write down clearly and unequivocally that the presence of Benedict XVI at their university was objectionable.

Two months later, that letter has led to a wave of protest with an Anti-Clerical Week that starts today at the University of La
Sapienza - four days of films, meetings and social gatherings which will culminate Thursday when Pope Benedict XVI will visit the university for the inauguration of the academic year.

"The first version of the letter was much harsher. We have since softened it," says Andrea Frova, one of the 10 original great minds [the reporter actually uses the term 'grandi menti'] motivated by the belief that the Pope on this occasion is 'out of place', in the letter they sent to the university rector, Renato Guarini.

Frova, 71, a lecturer on general physics, and a lifelong scholar on Galileo, says he had absolutely no doubt on what to do: "We felt humiliated and offended [that the he university should have invited the Pope]. This is a Pope who has turned us back by four centuries."

He claims that the Church's 'rehabilitation' of Galileo under John Paul II was simply an operation of political opportunism.

"For persons like us who have dedicated our life to Galileo and to science, it is unacceptable to even think that the Pope could enter our world, our sphere of activity," he said.

The first version of the letter was circulated among other professors, out of which emerged the second 'softer' version.

"Much softer," Frova said. "But many chose to agree with having the Pope here, starting with our friend Veltroni. [Is the mayor of Rome a professor at La Sapienza?] But the second letter was signed by 67 professors and was sent on to the rector. [What does it say that only 67 out of more than 5,000 professors signed the letter - something the reporter does not mention?]

Thus, professor Frova and a handful of other eminent physicists and scientists find themselves at the head of an anti-clerical protest organized by some student organizations and gay movements. Including marches on Thursday which they have called 'frocessione' and speeches accompanied by loud music which they call an 'attack of sound'.

Not to mention the political byplay from all this. One deputy has called for possible charges of 'instigating violence'.

"We did nothing to feed all this," Prova claims. "We sent our letter through internal channels to the rector. We told him we expected the visit to be cancelled in order to avoid any dust-up. Instead, the rector chose a cosmetic compromise. Originally, the Pope was supposed to give the lectio magistralis, but Guarini decided to give that honor to one of the university professors and just have the Pope deliver a regular address. It doesn't change anything as far as we are concerned, but at the same time, we only intended our letter to be an internal question, and it should have remained so." [But that is so disingenuous! The Pope's lectio magistralis was announced by the university in November to take place December 13, and then one week later, it had to announce a postponement and gave the reason for the postponement. What other reason could it have given? That the Pope would be indisposed? A university does not just postpone formal inauguration of its academic year arbitrarily!]

But who invited the Pope to begin with? Prova says, "As far as I know, it was first intended to be simply a visit to the chapel of the Unviersity which had been recently restored. Then there appeared to have been pressure from the Vatican for a more official nature, and so the rector invited him to inaugurate the academic year." [Initial reports about this said Guarini had extended an invitation to the Pope for such a lectio magistralis shortly after the Conclave of 2005, and evidently, this happened to be the occasion convenient to both sides.]

"However," Frova continued, "we maintain that it is offensive to our dignity that in this university, someone should set foot who had reiterated in a speech Feyerabend's unacceptable statement that the Church proceedings against Galileo had been 'reasonable and just'.

La Stampa, 14 gennaio 2008

====================================================================


Not only have these supposedly 'great minds' of science condemned the Pope of obscurantism and hostility to science on the basis of one statement that was not even his own - but they have obviously failed, nor bothered, to read anything else that Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has written and said about science constantly and consistently all these decades.

They may not even be aware of the fact that he is so far ahead of them that his annual Schuelerkreise has discussed evolution two years in a row - and come out with a book that reflects the state of knowledge and discussion today about evolution, which impacts on all the natural sciences!

But why hasn't one Italian scientist come out so far to write or say something in public to set the record straight about this Pope?

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/11/2011 11.31]
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I spoke too soon. My last comment above said no Italian scientist has so far come out to speak in defense of the Pope. The Italian serVice of Vatican Radio in fact has the following interview with a genetics professor at La Sapienza. However, the interviewer did not ask him to comment on the Galileo case.

There is now a flood of commentary on this issue, pro and con, in the Italian media who salivate, feast and thrive on any controversy involving the Pope or the Church.


Translated from the
Italian service of



A SCIENTIST AND A STUDENT
SPEAK OUT FROM LA SAPIENZA


Benedict XVI's first event in 2008 outside the Vatican will take place Thursday at La Sapienza University when he takes part in ceremonies to inaugurate the academic year.

While the university community looks forward in general to this meeting with the Pope and what he has to say to them, there have been public protests and censorious initiatives.

"Benedict XVI should not speak at this university" was the supposedly 'tolerant appeal' sent by 67 professors of a university that was founded by a Pope in 1303. Meanwhile, various student groups have announced various protest manifestations including a sit-in on Thursday.

Alessandro Gisotti interviewed the geneticist Bruno Dallapiccola, professor of medical genetics at La Sapienza:

DALLAPICCOLA: I must say that this is a shameful episode that certainly does not do honor to a university as great and important as La Sapienza, to which I belong.

And yet, this is a university that several years ago welcomed a group of Raelians who advocate human cloning [and in fact falsely claimed to have done so]. In other times, this university has always been open to politicians of every kind and even to show business people who have acquired celebrity.

Are those who now oppose the Pope's visit not ashamed that they can even think of preventing someone of the Pope's stature and universal esteem from speaking or coming here?

Where is the simple respect for any person who may have views we do not share? Most of all, in an arena of thought as great as a university, which should welcome any opportunity to have an outstanding thinker come to us.


Is it not surprising that a Pope who has precisely made the dialog between faith and reason a distinctive mark of his Pontificate is now being opposed from speaking by professors who are, in a certain sense, his colleagues, since he was a university professor himself for a long time?
I think the only reason is that they are afraid to hear what he might have to say. I think they are fearful of another powerful and important statement by the Pope. But I am sure that the doors of the university will remain open to him, because otherwise, that would be truly the end to the historical La Sapienza as Rome has known it.


Among other things, those who want to keep the Pope away have obviously not even read the lecture they are objecting to. They are already prejudiced, to begin with.
Exactly. They have an a priori prejudice. some are afraid of the Church, especially since more people are now listening to the Church than in recent times. So those who think different from the Church or are hostile to it are afraid to give more space and visibility to a Church which, to begin with, does not need La Sapienza to have this visibility.

But the visit is an extraordinary opportunity for this university or any university, to welcome a man of great learning and culture like the Pope, who is also a great ethical reference point.


In such a climate that will be far from calm, what are the possible results of this visit by the Pope?
I think a man who is not only the spiritual leader of the Church but also a great man of philosophy and culture, certainly contributes to the discussion of all the problems that weigh on mankind today, and so his words will certainly provide points of reflection.

The preventive 'veto' by his critics is motivated by fear as well as to symbolize a stand against the Church. Instead, they should see it as an extraordinary opportunity to draw some lessons to reflect on.

=====================================================================

Gisotti also interviewed Caterina Laurieri, a student at La Sapienza who works with the department for pastoral care of universities of the Vicariate of Rome.

LAURIERI: I think that the presence of the Holy Father would represent the encounter between the Biblical message and the historical, literary and scientific thought that the university promotes.

It is part of an entire European heritage, which includes a Tradition of thought for which a correspondence between faith, truth and reason is essential.

The dignity and value of any culture are shown by its openness, its capacity to to give and to receive - in this case, to receive a great figure of our times such as the Pope is.


Everyone knows that Benedict XVI was a university professor himself for a long time, and therefore, someone used to interacting with students, and that the Pope often lays stress on a 'pastoral ministry of intelligence'...
In an environment like La Sapienza, and in particular, within some scientific faculties - I myself study in the faculty of biology - there is a tendency to put a clear separation between science and faith. But often without even trying to understand - in the scientific sense - that faith is not simply a catalyst. And that it is not possible to separate science and faith completely, much less not have anything to do with each other.


But in an ideological environment like universities often are, how does one testify to the faith with one's own contemporaries?
Seeing that at La Sapienza, most of the students come from other places, they need social encounters where there can be a free and authentic exchange, where they can express their beliefs, their doubts, their problems - but also to learn and understand.

The Pope is someone who can help us to build a desirable society, that society of love about which he often speaks.


About these pre-announced demonstrations against the Pope, what would you advise your fellow students?
To listen fully to the Pope, and put his words into practice in the different faculties, especially in the scientific ones.



Now, Gisotti has also posted an account of his interview with the rector of La Sapienza:


AN INTERVIEW WITH THE RECTOR
OF LA SAPIENZA


Translated from the
Italian service of





"It will be a moment of high culture, of a confrontation of ideas which will be fruitful for the entire university community of La Sapienza."

That is the view of Prof. Renato Guarini, rector of the university on the Pope's visit on Thusrday morning.

GUARINI: I, personally, and the academic community are preparing to welcome the Pope, who is a messenger of peace, but above all, a man of great culture and profound philosophical thought. It will certainly be beneficial for us to meet him and listen to his reflections.


The academic year is opening in the name of abolishing the death penalty, an issue dear to the Pope, who recently called for a public debate on the more general issue of the sacredness of human life. What can the academic world do in this respect?
A lot, because we educate the future generation., and we should sensitize them to these problems. Indeed, the purpose for our invitation to the Pope was linked to this fundamental theme, one might call it, of the new academic year.

In fact, I would like that after the Pope's visit, our students may learn to help sensitize other students in otehr univerrsities and other countries to these problems.


Benedict XVI was a university professor himself for a long time. What do your professors think of such an exceptional colleague?
La Sapienza is a very big and complex university. Obviously, it includes believers, non-believers, people with different ideologies. I think everyone should look on the Pope above all as a man of great culture and a former professor, independent of his ideas.

But I am aware that some have made statements that seem to show they have not read any of what Benedict XVI has written.


You are referring obviously to the letter by a few dozen professors who have asked you to cancel the Pope's visit. What did you say to them?
First, I must reaffirm that they are a distinct minority, since La Sa Pienza has 4500 professors. [That should correct previous news reports which said it had more than 5000.]Therefore, those who sent the letter are a decidedly tiny minority.

I respect the ideas of everyone, but I would also remind them that this requires dialog, above all, to have reason prevail over ideologies, especially ideologies which have outlived their time.


It is also well-known that one of the distinctive marks of Benedict's Pontificate is his commitment for a frutiful dialog between faith and reason. What difficulties - or progress - do you see in this?
I am a man of reason, and I hope that dialog and exploring issues in depth will lead to fruitful reflection. But as long as matters are only considered generically - and I repeat that many of his critics have never even read the Pope - then it is easy to simply take preconceived positions. So I hope the Pope's visit will open such a dialog between faith and reason. [If the other side bothers to listen! But they will play deaf and blind.]


In his recent address to the local administrators of Rome and Lazio, the Pope emphasized the centrality of education in forming the human being. What is the role of the university here?
A very important one, especially the universities of Rome, like La Sapienza, which are great centers of attraction for students from all over Italy and the Mediterranean region.

The role is great and so is the responsibility. I hope that the universities, besides preparing young people professionally and scientifically, also prepares them in their human formation, beginning with committing themselves to great ideals.

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This time, John Allen has his say:


The Pope, modern science,
and a canary in the coal mine

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
New York
Posted on Jan 14, 2008


Normally speaking, a visit by a Pope to a Roman university to launch the academic year would not be a particularly scintillating news story. Benedict XVI’s appearance at Rome’s La Sapienza this coming Thursday, however, is likely to draw above-average attention, in the wake of a letter from 63 professors and students, including the entire physics faculty, demanding that the invitation be withdrawn. Some student groups have also threatened a sit-in.

Their charge? That Benedict XVI is an enemy of science and reason.

Specifically, the letter points to a speech given on March 15, 1990, by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in Parma in which he addressed the Galileo case, quoting Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend that “the church’s verdict against Gaileo was rational and just.”

The physics professors described themselves as “indignant as scientists faithful to reason, and as teachers who dedicate our lives to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge. These words offend and humiliate us. In the name of secularity of science, we hope that this incongruous event can still be cancelled.”

In media interviews, the professors have also cited Benedict’s recent encyclical, Spe Salvi, in which the pope insisted that salvation comes through faith rather than science.

The rector of Rome’s La Sapienza, a public university, quickly said that the papal lecture will go forward.

It’s tempting to see this as one of those “only-in-Italy” dust-ups.

The 18-year-old speech cited by the pope’s critics, for example, was a reflection by Ratzinger on a change in the secular intellectual climate, turning Galileo into a more ambivalent figure, as part of a broader awareness of the shadow side of scientific progress.

In that context, Benedict cited the judgment of Feyerabend, an agnostic and skeptic, on Galileo, along with similar statements from Ernst Bloch and C.F. Von Weizsacker. Ratzinger even called the quote from Feyerabend “drastic.”

Ratzinger concluded the speech by saying, “It would be absurd, on the basis of these affirmations, to construct a hurried apologetics. The faith does not grow from resentment and the rejection of rationality, but from its fundamental affirmation, and from being rooted in a still greater form of reason.”

In other words, Benedict is being faulted by the physics professors for somebody else’s words, which his full text suggests he does not necessarily share. (Readers who remember Regensburg can be forgiven a sense of déjà-vu.)

[An English translation of Ratzinger’s 1990 comments in Parma is here: ncrcafe.org/node/1541 - It is the same excerpt I translated from Il Giornale in an earlier post.]

As for Spe Salvi, here’s what Benedict wrote:

“Francis Bacon and those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity that he inspired were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive. Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it.”

Whatever one makes of that, it’s hard to construe it as an attack on science and reason.

Moreover, there’s plenty of evidence that Benedict XVI is not actually hostile to modern science, as long as it doesn’t pretend to render religious faith irrelevant. The pope recently appointed a Princeton hydrologist to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, for example, who strongly supports the Theory of Evolution and the science of global warming.

Given all this, one could easily conclude that the fracas at La Sapienza is one of those equal-and-opposite flare-ups from anti-clerical forces in Italy, whose resentments over the church’s centuries of power and influence sometimes breed over-the-top reactions.

Yet two other points are worth noting.

First, the Parma address illustrates a bit of professorial style from Benedict that also got him into trouble in Regensburg, which is quoting someone else’s provocative words in order to set up a discussion. (In fact, the Parma address makes it far more clear that these were not Ratzinger’s ideas, because he was discussing a movement in secular agnostic thought – a camp in which he would clearly not include himself.) [The Parma lecture was 'professorial' because it was precisely that - a professorial lecture at a university.]

Going forward, the lesson to be learned is that a public figure, and especially a Pope, can’t quote incendiary language without immediately and unambiguously distancing himself from it – at least, without paying a PR price down the line.

Second, the La Sapienza contretemps is perhaps less about Benedict’s specific thoughts on science, than broader perceptions that he is “rolling back the clock” on Catholicism’s opening to modernity, associated above all with the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

In early December, secular Italian writer Eugenio Scalfari published a piece in La Repubblica on Spe Salvi titled precisely, “The pope who rejects the modern world.”

It’s easy enough to see how people form such impressions. This Sunday, for example, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel in which he employed a pre-Vatican II altar with his back to the congregation for parts of the liturgy, and read his homily from an old wooden throne on the left of the altar used by Pius IX in the 19th century.

Critics charge that such gestures reveal a pope determined to “roll back the clock,” while Benedict himself insists that he is simply trying to reinforce a sense of continuity in Catholicism, emphasizing the importance of tradition, without repudiating the steps forward associated with Vatican II, such as religious freedom, ecumenism, and inter-faith dialogue.

One can debate the merits of such positions endlessly, but perhaps the significance of the La Sapienza episode, at least from a PR point of view, is as a sort of “canary in the coal mine” – a warning of a potentially dangerous public impression about Benedict’s agenda that, at times, may cloud even innocent words and gestures.

Where in the end there may be little the Pope can do about that, it’s at least something to ponder on.

=====================================================================


As usual, I deplore Allen's tendency - well-meaning, I grant - to find fault with certain aspects of the Pope's 'style' (rhetorical as well as formal and ritual) and to consider such aspects 'dangerous' and 'harmful' to the Pope's actual agenda.

Benedict is who he is, who and what he has been for the past almost 81 years. A person's 'style' is as much characteristic of his personality - in fact, an expression of it - as his way of thinking.

He has always been clear about what he thinks, and he has always acted accordingly. If, as he often is, he is misinterpreted - or 'has a PR problem' as secularists like Allen and Jeff Israely prefer to look at it - that is unfortunate. But Jesus himself did not have a 'good press' either in his lifetime. It's the way of the world.

Therefore, those who are in a position to present the Pope and his thinking to the world should just do so with good will and generosity, without carping about his perceived PR shortcomings at every chance they get.

Insofar as the liturgical innovations are concerned, not even Allen can fault the Pope for not explaining his reasons at length for the things he does.

Joseph Ratzinger's writings and speeches on the liturgy were abundant and clear over a period of several decades, and as for touches like the Sistine Chapel innovations yesterday, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations - since Mons. Guido Marini took over - has been careful to pre-announce expected changes and to explain them.

Journalists sympathetic to the Pope and what he is trying to do should propagate these explanations, instead of joining the critics, and calling their criticisms 'lessons from which the Pope must learn'.

In what way is Allen's posturing in this respect different from the LA Times editorial on "Teaching the Pope' or Jeff Israely's "Will the Pope behave in Austria?" or the Commonweal school of 'That'll teach ya, you so-and-so!'

All of them are treating one of the greatest minds today - and the spiritual leader of the Church - like an errant echoolboy who needs to be spanked now and then but who is so hard-headed and cannot learn a lesson! I don't dispute their right to say or write what they want, but I do regret deeply their condescension to the Pope - and resent it bitterly.




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Now, the international media have started to tune in to the La Sapienza issue. Here is a report from DPA, a German news agency, on its English service. The coverage is boudn to be even more partial - in both senses of the word - than it has been in some parts of the Italian media.

Pope set to face 'sonic siege'
during visit to Rome university




ROME, Jan. 14 (dpa) - Students at Rome's main La Sapienza university plan to disrupt Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit to their campus later this week with blasts of loud rock music.

The group of left-wing physics students on Monday launched an "Anti-Clerical Week" of events ahead of Benedict's scheduled arrival on campus on Thursday.

"In a university which should be ... a place of cultural growth, research and conscientious and secular criticism, La Sapienza Rector Renato Guarini has instead decided to invite Pope Joseph Ratzinger to inaugurate the academic year," the students said on their website, referring to Benedict's name before his 2005 election.

Benedict as pontiff "condemns centuries of scientific and cultural growth by affirming anachronistic dogmas such as Creationism, while attacking scientific free-thought and promoting mandatory heterosexuality", the students, who use the name, Physics Collective, said.

Featured events included screenings of a film on the life of Galileo Galilei - the Italian Renaissance scientist whose theories on astronomy provoked the ire of the Catholic Church - as well as debates on topics such as evolution and homosexuality.

The protests are set to culminate with a "sonic siege" involving music played from loudspeakers mounted on a truck in the campus' main square during Benedict's main address, students said.

In his response the rector of La Sapienza - which during the student protests of the 1960s and 70s was often the scene of clashes involving leftists, rightists and the police - appealed for tolerance.

"Despite differences in opinion, Benedict XVI should be welcomed asa man of great culture and of profound philosophical thought, a messenger of peace and those ethical value that we all share," Guarini said.

But Benedict's presence at the ceremony at La Sapienza which will also mark the 705th anniversary of the founding of the university, one of Europe's oldest, has also drawn criticism from a group of lecturers.

In a letter published in Rome-daily La Repubblica, the 67 signatories, which according to the newspaper included "the best known members" of La Sapienza's Physics' faculty, called on the university to revoke the "disconcerting invitation" to Benedict.

In their letter the lecturers cited a 1990 speech made by Benedict when he was still a cardinal in which he allegedly justified the Catholic Church's actions against Galileo.

During the 1990 speech delivered in Parma, Italy, Cardinal Ratzinger had quoted Austrian-born philosopher Paul Feyerabend in which he said that the church's 1633 heresy trial against Galileo was "reasonable and fair."

In court Galileo was forced to recant his theories - later proved correct - that the planets, including the Earth, rotated around the Sun which was at the centre of the solar system.

In 1992, Benedict's predecessor as pontiff, John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo was treated by the Catholic Church.


And from the Times of London:

Scientists protest against Pope
Richard Owen in Rome
Jan. 14, 2008

Sixty one Italian scientists have signed a letter protesting against a planned visit this week by Pope Benedict XVI to Rome's Sapienza University because of his stated views on Galileo. [His mis-stated views, rather!]

In a letter to Renato Guarini, the university rector, the scientists said the visit was "incongruous". The signatories include distinguished physicists such as Andrea Frova, author of a study of Galileo's persecution by the Church, and Carlo Maiani, the recently appointed head of the Italian National Council for Research or CNR.

The letter said scientists felt "offended and humiliated" by a statement made in 1990 by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the modern descendant of the Inquisition - suggesting that the trial of Galileo for heresy because of his support for the Copernican system was justified in the context of the time.

The scientists said they hoped the visit by the Pope on Thursday would be cancelled out of respect for the "secular nature of science" and the fact that the university was open to "students of every belief and ideology".

Students at the university said they were preparing to welcome the Pope with banners of protest and loud disco music. As a cardinal, Benedict once attacked rock and pop music as the "work of the devil."

However Bruno Dalla Piccola, professor of genetic medicine at the university, said the protests were "a shameful episode which do no credit to a great and important university". [DIM]pt[=DIM][We remember this from the Vatican Radio interview posted above, right? Well, once again, Owen fails to credit the sources for his quotes - a habitual omission by him and a terrible journalistic sin that is taken one step further by PETRUS - as well-meaning as it is - which often does not credit newspapers and news agencies whose stories it posts in full, and a deliberate act of cheating that I regret they must resort to.]

Both professors and students should be ashamed of themselves for trying to prevent someone who "enjoys respect at a world level" from speaking, Professor Dalla Piccola said, adding "Perhaps they are afraid of what the Pope has to say".

Benedict's predecessor Pope John Paul II acknowledged that the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning Galileo in 1633 for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

He told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that those who condemned Galileo - who was forced to recant and spent the remaining eight years of his life under house arrest - had failed to recognise the distinction between the text of the Bible and its interpretation.

This had led them "unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith" a matter which had to do with scientific investigation, John Paul said. But he added that the Inquisition had acted correctly in the sense that it was working within knowledge available at the time and had therefore been consistent in guarding the integrity of the Catholic Faith.

The then Cardinal Ratzinger also observed that "At the time of Galileo the Church remained much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself. The process against Galileo was reasonable and just". [Oh, my God! I don't believe it. Owen just attributed Feyerabend's fuller statement to Ratzinger - bad enough that Owen says in his lead the scientists were protesting the Pope's 'stated views on Galileo'. He himself has obviously not bothered to check out the full lecture at Parma - his Italian cannot be so bad he cannot see the right attributions in the text!]

The Italian Catholic writer Vittorio Messori agreed, saying Galileo "was not condemned for the things he said, but for the way he said them. He made statements with sectarian intolerance....Anyone who would not immediately accept the entire Copernican system was 'an imbecile with his head in the clouds,' 'a stain upon mankind,' 'a child who never grew up,' and so on." [Which is the same kind of intolerance expressed today by those who revere him for the wrong reasons.]

Last month it was disclosed that the Pope had asked the Vatican's astronomers to move out of Castelgandolfo, his summer residence in the Alban Hills, into new premises in a disused convent. However Vatican officials said this was not because the pontiff was "anti- science" but because the space used by the Vatican Observatory was needed for diplomatic meetings. [Owen's malicious intention here is as clear as it was when he first reported on the Observatory moving out of the Apostolic Palace in CG.]

The Observatory's Jesuit director, Father Jose Funes, agreed there was "no downgrading of science in the Vatican."

Last year Benedict told the observatory's summer school: "The Vatican Observatory has sought to demonstrate the Church's desire to embrace, encourage, and promote scientific study, on the basis of her conviction that 'faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth'." [Thank you for this, at least, Mr Owen.]


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Re: John Allen
Thanks for all the posts on the La Sapienza story, Teresa, and especially for the translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's 1990 speech/lecture. His words on this occasion regarding the Galileo case have been misrepresented many times already, even in my country. I'm waiting for the next spate of scorn by "scientific" minds in South Africa who may have heard of the Sapienza scandal and will make it known here with triumphant joy. It is good to now have Ratzinger's original words in its entirety. It provides the necessary ammunition that may be needed. Thanks again!

Re: John Allen> I've said it before but I don't think he has changed fundamentally in his assessment of and sentiments about the Pope. I've never read his Cardinal Ratzinger-biography, but have read about his negativity in that publication. Well, he still is constantly giving the Holy Father - the "errant schoolboy", as you aptly put it - these condescending raps over the knuckles. And Allen's views are widely read. I don't like what he is doing.

======================================================================

Thanks for the moral support, Crotchet! It's always very gratifying to hear from you at times like these. You always come through when I need it most.

It's very dispiriting when narrow or even closed minds prevail, at least in media play, and when even supposed supporters of the Pope carp and cavil about what he has decided to wear and do in the liturgies he performs - as if he had no mind of his own, or his decisions in themselves, have suddenly become questionable - instead of trying to see the reasons for such decisions and see them as 'teaching moments'.

Can any right-thinking Catholic really think that any Pope, least of all this Pope, would say or do anything lightly, without thorough consideration, especially in matters which are visible and therefore highly charged with symbolism for the simple reason that the Pope is the Pope?

Thanks once again, and God bless....

Let us just go on praying for the Pope and sll his intentions, and that all Catholics, Christians and men of good will may rally behind him.

TERESA


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'AD ORIENTEM': NOW THE REACTIONS



I felt that NLM's treatment of yesterday's 'ad orientem' Papal Mass deserves a separate post, especially since it also has video-caps of the Mass.


The Pope 'baptizes', not only children,
but Novus Ordo ad orientem,
ad Deum, versus apsidem

Posted by Shawn Tribe
thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/
Jan. 13, 2008


An important event has occurred in the life of the Roman Church.

More significant even than the Pope's re-orientation of the liturgy by means of the arrangement of the versus populum altar [in which the Cross and candles have been 'introduced' to the Novus Ordo altar] - though going hand in hand with that important development - the Pope has now given an important public witness and example of the acceptability of the celebration of the sacred liturgy ad orientem, that is, with the priest, in this case the Pope himself, and the faithful, facing a common sacred direction, towards the Lord, towards the symbolic "East" of the liturgy.

This is the first such public manifestation (as compared to this practice in the Pope's private chapel) for quite some time, and that it has occurred within the Vatican itself is also significant.

The liturgy celebrated was that of the Baptism of the Lord. Baptism, of course, is the beginning of new life and the initiation into Christian life and perhaps in a fitting bit of symbolism, the Pope has sent forth a clear message, a re-baptism if you will of the place of a common sacred liturgical direction in the life of the church.

While the Council itself never abolished this ancient liturgical practice of the Christian East and West, and while liturgical law has always allowed this, as I have said before, the example - and particularly the public example - of the Pope does matter for Catholics.

This is a teaching moment, and it can be reasonably expected that this will send a clear message that ad orientem is conciliar and has a central, normal place in the liturgical life of the Church. This will no doubt also be an example that priests will feel now feel more empowered to follow.

This event is significant enough that the NLM made a point of rising in the middle of the night to bring you images and news of this as it happened:









A priest writes Amy Welborn the ff observation:

Look carefully at the placement of the altar cross in relation to Michelangelo’s fresco. The crucifix does not merely stand in juxtaposition to the image of the risen Christ. The cross stands in front of the entrance to Hell. It is through the power of the cross that the power of Satan is vanquished.

====================================================================

BENEDICT'S EASTERN PROMISE
by Damian Thompson
Holy Smoke, Daily Telegraph
Jan. 14, 2008



Can you hear a banshee wail in the distance? No, it’s not the call of the muezzin in East Oxford. It’s “Bobbie” Mickens of the Tablet, who has just learned that Pope Benedict XVI has celebrated Mass WITH HIS BACK TO THE PEOPLE!

The “spirit of Vatican II” gang at the Bitter Pill are doing another liturgical dance of rage at the news that the Holy Father has celebrated the New Mass in the Sistine Chapel facing eastwards.

A Vatican spokesman reports that the Pope decided to dispense with the chapel’s mobile, west-facing, altar to respect “the beauty and harmony of this architectural jewel”.

That sends out an interesting message. Could the Pope be signalling that other freestanding altars destroy the integrity of old churches whose high altar is designed for worship “ad orientem”?

Many traditionalists cannot bear Mass facing the people because it can turn the priest into a sort of sacred chat-show host – or, worse, TV chef. “You won’t catch me doing a Delia,” says one of my traddie priest friends.

But, as the former Cardinal Ratzinger often observed, there are profound theological reasons for the sacrifice of the Mass (in older or newer form) to be enacted by a priest and people facing in the same direction – towards the east from which Catholics believe Christ will one day return.

Cardinal Basil Hume believed that eastward-facing Mass would one day return to the Church. Tablet types were shocked when he said so. But it looks as if his prophecy may come true.


Thompson illustrated his blog with a reproduction of Munch's The Scream, but I will use Fr. Z's clever adaptation of The Scream to illustrate the reaction of hardcore progressivists, from the old days when Summorum Pontificum was just a motu-proprio-still-on-the-way (today, one would have to add gnashing of teeth, and tearing-hair-out-by-the-roots, and even perhaps, fizzling-away-in-a-cloud-of-incense-and-sulphur, to the graphic:





For the record, here is how the Daily Telegraph reported the Sistine Chapel ceremonies today - with a typically malicious double-entendre headline:


Pope Benedict turns his back on new rituals
Daily Telegraph
Jan. 14, 2008


Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the congregation, reintroducing an old ritual that was phased out decades ago.

The Pope used the Sistine Chapel's ancient altar, set right against the wall under Michelangelo's dramatic depiction of the Last Judgment, instead of a mobile altar which allowed his predecessor, John Paul II, to face the congregation.

A statement by the Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar, where ballots are placed during papal elections, to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectural jewel".

That meant that for the first time in this kind of celebration since the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965, the Pope occasionally turned his back on the faithful and faced the Cross.

The pontiff is slowly reintroducing some of the rituals phased out after Vatican II, which modernised the Church and ordered that local languages be used instead of Latin.

In another nod to traditionalists, he has said he would like the centuries-old Gregorian chant to be more widely used.

During the Mass, the Pope also baptised 13 babies, pouring water on their heads from a golden shell.

There was a brief panic when the pontiff realised that he had lost his papal ring, which an aide found near the altar.

=====================================================================

READ VATICAN-II TEXTS
AND YOU WILL BE ASTONISHED TO LEARN...



Nothing is more clarificatory about the 'ad orientem' issue than a short foreword that Cardinal Ratzinger in 2002 for TURNING TOWARDS THE LORD, a book by German liturgist Uwe Michael Lang, since last autumn called to the Roman Curia to head an office in the Congregation for Divine Worship. I posted the whole item in IN HIS OWN WORDS earlier, but thepertinent parts bear repetition - everywhere, if possible.

In particular, journalists who write about these issues owe it to their profession and to the public they are supposed to serve with the truth - or with objective fact, at least - to have a minimum threshold of necessary information.

From a Foreword by
CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER

To the ordinary churchgoer, the two most obvious effects of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council seem to be the disappearance of Latin and the turning of the altars towards the people. Those who read the relevant texts will be astonished to learn that neither is in fact found in the decrees of the Council.


The use of the vernacular is certainly permitted, especially for the Liturgy of the Word, but the preceding general rule of the Council text says, 'Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites' (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36.1).

There is nothing in the Council text about turning altars towards the people; that point is raised only in postconciliar instructions.

The most important directive is found in paragraph 262 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, the General Instruction of the new Roman Missal, issued in 1969.

That says, 'It is better for the main altar to be constructed away from the wall so that one can easily walk around the altar and celebrate facing the people (versus populum).'

The General Instruction of the Missal issued in 2002 retained this text unaltered except for the addition of the subordinate clause, 'which is desirable wherever possible'. This was taken in many quarters as hardening the 1969 text to mean that there was now a general obligation to set up altars facing the people 'wherever possible'.

This interpretation, however, was rejected by the Congregation for Divine Worship on 25 September 2000, when it declared that the word 'expedit' ('is desirable') did not imply an obligation but only made a suggestion.

The physical orientation, the Congregation says, must be distinguished from the spiritual. Even if a priest celebrates versus populum, he should always be oriented versus Deum per Iesum Christum (towards God through Jesus Christ).



Rites, signs, symbols, and words can never exhaust the inner reality of the mystery of salvation. For this reason the Congregation warns against one-sided and rigid positions in this debate.

This is an important clarification. It sheds light on what is relative in the external symbolic forms of the liturgy and resists the fanaticisms that, unfortunately, have not been uncommon in the controversies of the last forty years.

At the same time it highlights the internal direction of liturgical action, which can never be expressed in its totality by external forms. This internal direction is the same for priest and people, towards the Lord - towards the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

The Congregation's response should thus make for a new, more relaxed discussion, in which we can search for the best ways of putting into practice the mystery of salvation. The quest is to be achieved, not by condemning one another, but by carefully listening to each other and, even more importantly, listening to the internal guidance of the liturgy itself.

The labelling of positions as 'preconciliar', 'reactionary', and 'conservative', or as 'progressive' and 'alien to the faith' achieves nothing; what is needed is a new mutual openness in the search for the best realisation of the memorial of Christ.



This is a good place to post Marco Politi's predictably tendentious reporting in La Repubblica on the Sistine Chapel Mass. Here is a translation.


Turning his back to the faithful
By Marco Politi
La Repubblica
Jan. 14, 2008



Three years after his election, the Pope has accomplished a historic dream: to celebrate Mass while turned towards the altar, showing his back to the faithful, as the shepherd who guides his flock towards the Christ.

The place was symbolic: the Sistine Chapel, where Joseoph Ratzinger was elected Pope. And it is from there that the German Pope has sent a signal for his Counter-Reformation.

Certainly, it was just a gesture, with nothing compulsory about it. Priests may continue to keep celebrating Mass as they have done for the past 40 years.

But the Church's centuries-old history iex expressed in gestures, signs, and symbols, and when Joseph Ratzinger solemnly elevated the host and the chalice in the direction of the crucifix situated on top of the ancient marble altar, not looking at the faithful, but staring at the Christ of the Universal Judgment on the wall, all understood.

The pontiff will not deviate from his chosen path to review the ways in which Vatican II is being applied.

He does not believe in the "spirit of the Council" professed by progressivists who claim to be consistent with the intentions of Vatican II.

From the start, Papa Ratzinger hsa said that the Council was not a rupture with tradition, but a renewal within tradition. Even as a Cardinal, he had pointed out that celebrating Mass with the celebrant turned towards the faithful was not odered by Vatican-II and that faithful and priests must both 'face East', in the direction of the Resurrection.

And so, the 13 couples who, on Sunday, took their newborn children to be baptized by the Pope witnessed an eloquent return to the past. Without the post-conciliar altar table, Benedict XVI, entering the Sistine slowly, knelt before its marble altar, and left the faithful only a view of the back of his vestments. [So??? The faithful are not at Mass to look at the priest! But melodrama makes Politi's point - and that of others who choose to misunderstand 'ad orientem': they see it as 'turning his back on the people' rather than turning towards God, represented by the Crucifix on the altar and the Blesed Sacrament in the tabernacle.]


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BENEDICT XVI ON GALILEO AND SCIENCE, REASON AND FAITH




Lella and some of the readers on her blog have done some important homework, which I am availing of, using translations we already have. They have so far found two occasions during which Benedict XVI spoke about Galileo in terms which would come as a great surprise to his shoot-from-the-hip detractors.

The more recent one was in his address to the National Convention of the Italan Church in Verona on October 19, 2006, a speech that some observers described as practically a mini-encyclical on the pastoral mission of the Church in Italy.

This excerpt comes, surprisingly - or perhaps not - from the subsection entitled "To make visible the great Yes to faith":




As I wrote in the encyclical Deus caritas est, at the beginning of being a Christian – and therefore, at the start of our testimony as believers – was not an ethical decision nor a great idea, but the encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ “who gives to life a new horizon and with it a decisive direction” (n.1).

The fecundity of this encounter is manifested – in a peculiar and creative manner – even in the actual human and cultural context, above all in relation to reason, which gave rise to modern sciences and to its related technologies.

One of the fundamental characteristics of the latter is in fact the systematic employment of the tools of mathematics to be able to work on nature and put its immense energies at our service.

Mathematics as such is a creation of our intelligence: the correspondence between its structures and the real structures of the universe – the assumption of all modern scientific and technological developments, already formulated explicitly by Galileo Galilei in his famous statement that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics – arouses our admiration and raises a great question.

In fact it implies that the universe itself is structured intelligently, in a way that there is a profound correspondence between our subjective reason and nature’s objective reason. It therefore becomes inevitable to ask ourselves if there should not be a single originating intelligence which is the common source of one and the other.

And thus our very reflection itself on the development of science brings us towards the creative Logos. This overturns the tendency to give primacy to the irrational, to chance and to necessity, so that even our intelligence and our liberty can only point us back to the Logos.

On this bases it is also possible to widen the spaces for our rationality, reopen it to the great questions about truth and goodness, bring together theology, philosophy and the sciences, with full respect for their respective methodologies and their reciprocal autonomy, but also aware of the intrinsic unity that holds them together.

That is a task which lies before us, a fascinating adventure worth undertaking, so we can give a new impetus to the culture of our time and can restitute full citizenship for the Christian faith within that culture. The ‘cultural project’ of the Church in Italy for such an end is undoubtedly a haopy intuition and a very important contribution.



The other occasion was during the Pope's Q&A with the youth of the Diocese of Rome, in St. Peter's Square, on April 6, 2006. Having had a university education that was heavily weighted in the sciences, I remember holding my breath at this particular answer - an impromptu and truly amazing disquisition on some of the most abstract concepts in science, which the Pope managed to convey in easily accessible terms that contained all the wonder of human knowledge and the ineffable mystery of God's cosmic design.

Holy Father, I am Giovanni, 17 years old, student at the Liceo Scientifico Tecnologico Giovanni Giorgi in Rome. I belong to the Parish of Santa Maria Madre della Misericordia.

I am asking you to help us understand better how Biblical revelation and scientific theories can converge in the search for truth. Often we are led to believe that science and faith are enemies; that science and technology are one and the same; that mathematical logic has discovered everything; that the world is a product of chance, and that if mathematics has not discovered God, the theorem 'God is because he is God', simply does not exist.

In short, especially when we are “studying” (for school), it is not always easy to attribute everything to a divine plan inscribed in nature and in the story of man. So, at times, faith wavers or is reduced to a simple act of sentiment. I, too, Holy Father, like all young people, am hungry for Truth, but what can I do to harmonize science and faith?



The great Galileo said that God wrote the book of nature in the language of mathematics. He was convinced that God had given us two books: that of Sacred Scripture and that of nature. And that the language of nature - he was convinced of this – was mathematics which is thefore a language of God, of the Creator.

Now let us reflect on what mathematics is: of itself, it is an abstract system, an invention of the human mind, and as such, it does not exist as pure essence. It is always realized approximatively, but as an intellectual system, it is an invention of genius by the human mind.

The surprising thing is that this invention of our mind is truly the key to understanding nature, that nature is really structured mathematically, and that our mathematics, invented by the human spirit, is really the instrument with which we can work with nature, place it at our service, make it an instrument through technology.

It seems to me almost incredible that an invention of the human intellect and the structure of the universe should coincide, that the mathematics invented by us truly gives us access to the nature of the universe and makes this nature useful to us. And so the intellectual structure of the human subject and the objective structure of reality coincide: subjective reason and reason objectified in nature are identical.

I think that this coincidence between how we think and how nature came to be and how it behaves is a great enigma and challenge, because we see that in the end, there is “one” reason (primary cause) that connects both. Our own reasoning could not have discovered the other if there had not been a reason common to both.

In this sense, it seems to me that mathematics – in which God cannot appear as such – shows us the intelligent structure of the universe. Now, we even have theories of chaos, but they are limited, because if chaos had the upper hand, then all technology would be impossible.

Technology is reliable only because our mathematics is reliable. Our science, which finally makes it possible for us to work with the energies of nature, assumes that matter has a reliable and intelligent structure.

So we see that there is a subjective rationality as well as a rationality objectified in matter which coincide.

Of course, no one can now prove – as one does through experiment or technical readings – that both systems of reason really originated from one single “intelligence”, but it seems to me that this single intelligence behind the two systems of reason we have is truly manifest in our world. And that the more we are able to instrumentalize the world with our intelligence, the more the design of creation becomes apparent.

At the end, to come to the definitive question, I would say: Either there is a God, or there is none. Only two options exist.

One either recognizes the priority of reason, of the creative Reason that is at the origin of everything and is the principle of everything – the priority of reason is also the priority of freedom; or one advocates the priority of the irrational, in which everything that works on earth and in our lives would simply be occasional, marginal, an irrational product, in which case reason would be the product of irrationality!

Ultimately one cannot “prove” one or the other, but the great option of Christianity is to choose rationality and the priority of reason. This seems to me the optimal option which shows us how behind everything there is a great Intelligence, to whom we can entrust ourselves.

However, the true problem against faith today, it seems to me, is evil in this world. How is it compatible with the rationality of the Creator?

It is here we really need the God who was made flesh and who shows us that he is not only mathematical reason, but that he, the original Reason, is also Love.

If we look at the major options, the Christian option even today is the most rational and the most human. Because of this, we can elaborate with confidence a philosophy, a vision of the world, that is based on this priority of reason, on our faith that the creative Reason is love, and that this love is God.



Let me add two more Papal discourses on the role of science in the modern world and how it relates to faith and philosophy. This first one is his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on 11/6/2006. It is a brief but very cogent and flowing presentation of the subject. Interestingly, the president of the Academy at this time is Nicolas Cabibbo, a professor at la Sapienza, whom I had been hoping we could hear from these days!


The theme of your meeting – "Predictability in Science: Accuracy and Limitations" – deals with a distinctive attribute of modern science. Predictability, in fact, is one of the chief reasons for science’s prestige in contemporary society. The establishment of the scientific method has given the sciences the ability to predict phenomena, to study their development, and thus to control the environment in which man lives.

This increasing ‘advance’ of science, and especially its capacity to master nature through technology, has at times been linked to a corresponding ‘retreat’ of philosophy, of religion, and even of the Christian faith.

Indeed, some have seen in the progress of modern science and technology one of the main causes of secularization and materialism: why invoke God’s control over these phenomena when science has shown itself capable of doing the same thing?

Certainly the Church acknowledges that "with the help of science and technology…, man has extended his mastery over almost the whole of nature", and thus "he now produces by his own enterprise benefits once looked for from heavenly powers" (Gaudium et Spes, 33).

At the same time, Christianity does not posit an inevitable conflict between supernatural faith and scientific progress. The very starting-point of Biblical revelation is the affirmation that God created human beings, endowed them with reason, and set them over all the creatures of the earth. In this way, man has become the steward of creation and God’s "helper".

If we think, for example, of how modern science, by predicting natural phenomena, has contributed to the protection of the environment, the progress of developing nations, the fight against epidemics, and an increase in life expectancy, it becomes clear that there is no conflict between God’s providence and human enterprise. Indeed, we could say that the work of predicting, controlling and governing nature, which science today renders more practicable than in the past, is itself a part of the Creator’s plan.

Science, however, while giving generously, gives only what it is meant to give. Man cannot place in science and technology so radical and unconditional a trust as to believe that scientific and technological progress can explain everything and completely fulfil all his existential and spiritual needs.

Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man’s most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself.

For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, after acknowledging the benefits gained by scientific advances, pointed out that the "scientific methods of investigation can be unjustifiably taken as the supreme norm for arriving at truth", and added that "there is a danger that man, trusting too much in the discoveries of today, may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher values" (ibid., 57).

Scientific predictability also raises the question of the scientist’s ethical responsibilities. His conclusions must be guided by respect for truth and an honest acknowledgment of both the accuracy and the inevitable limitations of the scientific method.

Certainly this means avoiding needlessly alarming predictions when these are not supported by sufficient data or exceed science’s actual ability to predict. But it also means avoiding the opposite, namely a silence, born of fear, in the face of genuine problems.

The influence of scientists in shaping public opinion on the basis of their knowledge is too important to be undermined by undue haste or the pursuit of superficial publicity.

As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, once observed: "Scientists, precisely because they ‘know more’, are called to ‘serve more’. Since the freedom they enjoy in research gives them access to specialized knowledge, they have the responsibility of using that knowledge wisely for the benefit of the entire human family" (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 11 November 2002).

Dear Academicians, our world continues to look to you and your colleagues for a clear understanding of the possible consequences of many important natural phenomena. I think, for example, of the continuing threats to the environment which are affecting whole peoples, and the urgent need to discover safe, alternative energy sources available to all.

Scientists will find support from the Church in their efforts to confront these issues, since the Church has received from her divine founder the task of guiding people’s consciences towards goodness, solidarity and peace.

Precisely for this reason she feels in duty bound to insist that science’s ability to predict and control must never be employed against human life and its dignity, but always placed at its service, at the service of this and future generations.

There is one final reflection that the subject of your Assembly can suggest to us today. As some of the papers presented in the last few days have emphasized, the scientific method itself, in its gathering of data and in the processing and use of those data in projections, has inherent limitations that necessarily restrict scientific predictability to specific contexts and approaches.

Science cannot, therefore, presume to provide a complete, deterministic representation of our future and of the development of every phenomenon that it studies.

Philosophy and theology might make an important contribution to this fundamentally epistemological question by, for example, helping the empirical sciences to recognize a difference between the mathematical inability to predict certain events and the validity of the principle of causality, or between scientific indeterminism or contingency (randomness) and causality on the philosophical level, or, more radically, between evolution as the origin of a succession in space and time, and creation as the ultimate origin of participated being in essential Being.

At the same time, there is a higher level that necessarily transcends all scientific predictions, namely, the human world of freedom and history. Whereas the physical cosmos can have its own spatial-temporal development, only humanity, strictly speaking, has a history, the history of its freedom.

Freedom, like reason, is a precious part of God’s image within us, and it can never be reduced to a deterministic analysis. Its transcendence vis-à-vis the material world must be acknowledged and respected, since it is a sign of our human dignity.

Denying that transcendence in the name of a supposed absolute ability of the scientific method to predict and condition the human world would involve the loss of what is human in man, and, by failing to recognize his uniqueness and transcendence, could dangerously open the door to his exploitation.





The following is from his address on 10/21/06 to open the academic year at the Pontifical Lateran Unviersity. Delivered two days after his address in Verona, the address - for its fresh presentation of the responsibility of the university - gained a lot of media play then as another 'major' discourse on the heels of the Verona tour-de-force.

The university educates the new generations who expect to be challenged with serious and demanding propositions capable of responding in new contexts to the perennial question about the sense of one’s existence. This expectation should not be disappointed.

The contemporary context seems to give primacy to a sort of 'artificial' intelligence which becomes more and more overshadowed by experimental technique, thereby forgetting that every science must safeguard man and promote his reaching out towards authentic goodness.

To overvalue “doing” instead of “being” upsets the fundamental equilibrium which everyone needs in order to give one’s life a firm foundation and a valid purpose. Every man is called on to make sense of his own behavior, especially when faced with a scientific discovery that affects the very essence itself of personal life.

To allow onself to indulge in the appetite for discovery without keeping in mind the criteria which derive from a more profound vision would make us fall easily into the tragedy that we know from ancient myth.

The young Icarus, consumed by the desire to fly towards absolute liberty, heedless of the warnings from his old father Daedalus, poroceeded to get closer to the sun, forgetting that the wings with which he rose were made of wax. He paid for his illusion with his ruinous fall and death.

This ancient fable has perennial value. In life there are many illusions that we must not trust without risking disastrous consequences for our own existence and that of others.

The university professor has the task not only of investigating the truth and to arouse continuous wonder before it, but also to promote knowledge of it in every facet and to defend it from reductive and distorted interpretations.

To place the truth at the center of our consideration is not a merely speculative act restricted to a few thinkers. On the contrary, it is a vital element that gives profundity to our personal life and alerts us to our responsibilites in our social relations.

In fact, if one dismisses the question of truth and the concrete possibility for every person to reach it, life becomes reduced to a handful of hypotheses without any sure references.

The famous humanist Erasmus said: “Opinions are sources of satisfaction that can be had cheaply! But to learn the true essence of things, even if these are of minimum importance, costs great effort.” (In praise of folly, XL VII).

It is this effort that the University must commit itself to carry out – through study and reseaarch, in a spirit of patient perseverance. This effort will enable us to enter progressively into the heart of issues and open us up to the passion for truth and the joy of finding it.

The words of Saint Anselm, bishop of Aosta, continue to be valid today: “That desiring, I may seek; that seeking, I may desire; that loving, I may find; that finding, I may love” (Proslogion, I).

The space for silence and contemplation, which is the indispensable setting for pondering the questions raised by the spirit, can be found within these walls by attentive persons who know how to value their importance, effectiveness and consequences for personal and social life.

God is the ultimate truth to which all reason gravitates naturally, called on by our desire to fulfill to the end a task which is assigned to us. God is not an empty word or an abstract hypothesis. On the contrary, He is the foundation on which we must build our life.

To live in the world ‘veluti si Deus daretur’ (as though there is a God) carries with it the responsibility of investigating every feasible way to get closer to Him , who is the end towards which we all tend (cfr 1 Cor 15,24).

The believer knows this God has a face, and that once and for all, He came down to man through Jesus Christ. The Second Vatican Council says it memorably:

“With the Incarnation, the Son of God became united in some way to every man. He worked with the hands of a man, he thought with the mind of a man, he behaved with the will of a man, he loved with the heart of a man. By being born of the Virgin Mary, He truly became one of us, in everything except in sin” (Gaudium et spes, 22).

To know Him is to know the whole truth, thanks to which one finds freedom. “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8,32).






Finally, let us not forget that the Regensburg lecture was the quintessential lecture on the role of the university and knowledge in Christian life and that its title is, in fact, 'FAITH, REASON AND THE UNIVERSITY: MEMORIES AND REFLECTIONS'.

The complete and 'final' version is om
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=354945&p=9

One of my first reactions that day in September 2006 when I first read it was to say it should be required reading for every university student and teacher. Now, more than ever.


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THE POPE'S DAY TODAY





The Holy Father met with
- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian bishops conference
- Latin bishops of the Arab region (Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and Cyprus) on ad limina visit
- Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, and president of the French bishops conference,
with other officials of the conference




Bishops Brief Benedict XVI on Holy Land


VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI got a firsthand report of the situation of Christians in the Holy Land today.

The Pope was visited by eight prelates from the Conference of Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions, among whom was Archbishop Michel Sabbah, patriarch of Jerusalem.

The bishops, from countries such as Israel, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, visited the Pope for their five-yearly visit. They discussed with him the phenomenon of the emigration of Christians from the Holy Land.

Other issues discussed with the Holy Father, some of the bishops reported after the meeting, were the problems of justice and peace, and the formation of priests and laypeople.

During their time in Rome, the prelates will meet with bishops from American and Europe who make up part of a council coordinating support of the Holy Land. This latter group began its annual visit to Jerusalem on Saturday. They will finish their tour with a stop in Rome, where they will meet with the Middle East prelates.

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THE POPE WILL BE THERE,
VATICAN ASSURES


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 14 (Apcom) - "No change in the program. The Pope's visit to La Sapienza on Thursday will take place."

Vatican sources responded thus to Apcom's question on whether the Pope would proceed in the face of the programmed protests.

"The Pope was invited. The visit will take place," the sources said tersely.


LET PRODI GUARANTEE
SECURITY FOR THE POPE


ROME, Jan. 13 (Apcom) - "The mere thought that a visit by the Pope could be contested at a university in Rome gives a worse idea of Italy many times more terrible than the moutnains of uncollected garbage in Naples," said Francesco Storace, national secretary of La Destra, a coalition of rightist parties.

"I hope Prime Minister Prodi will not say once again that the Pope's security is a problem for the Swiss Guard [as he did before the Pope's visit to Turkey in 2006]. The government should guarantee meximum security to the head of the Catholic Church and a head of state when he travels in Italy outside the Vatican."





FERRARA DEFENDS POPE'S RIGHT TO SPEAK



MILAN, Jan. 14 (Apcom) - Giuliano Ferrara, editor of Il Foglio, had some harsh words today for the protesters against the Pope's visit to Rome's La Sapienza University on Thursday.

Ferrara was in Milan promoting his Christmas vigil initiative for a worldwide moratorium on abortion similar to the the UN-sponsored international moratorium on the death denalty.

"Do we want our universities to be like this pitiful one in Rome where they would like to muzzle Professor Ratzinger?", he asked at his public meeting, where his words were in behalf of the Pope were greeted by thunderous applause. "Do we really want our universities to fall into a state of neo-confessional conformism?"

Ferrara confirmed that his newspaper has organized as round-table discussion Wednesday evening, eve of the Pope's visit to La Sapienza, on the specific issue of the attempt by Italian liebral and secular elements to silence the Church and the Pope.



From the website of:


INAUGURATION OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2007 – 2008
Thursday, Jan. 17, 9:15
Aula Magna
Piazzale Aldo Moro




PROGRAM
0930 Opening speech by Rector Renato Guarini.
0950 Intervention by Gianluca Senatore, representing the students
0955 Intervenntion by Dina Bei Schmid, representing
the administrative and technical personnel.
1000 Lectio magistralis on the death penalty, by Mario Caravale,
professor of the history of Italian law
1020 Intervention by - Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome
1030 Intervention by Fabio Mussi, Minister for Universities and Research.
1040 The community of La apeinza welcomes the Pope
1100 Greeting by the Rector
Greeting by Christian Bonafede for the student body
1115 Address by His Holiness Benedict XV

At the end of the ceremony, Benedict XVI
visit the recently-restored university chapel.

VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER
TO THE UNIVERSITY CHAPEL

Thursday, 12:15 p.m.



1215 Arrival at the chapel
- Meeting with the chaplains and workers
in the pastoral ministry of the university
- Greetings
- Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacramet
- Address by a chaplain
- Address by the Holy Father
- Departure

==================================================================

ANTI-POPE GRAFFITI AT LA SAPIENZA







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There's an assortment of level-headed articles and commentary in the Italian papers today on the La Sapienza issue. I will post them as I am able to translate.


Vatican Radio protests
attempted 'censorhip' of the Pope

By CATERINA MANIACI
Libero, Jan. 15, 2008



The Pope's visit to La Sapienza university in Rome has become a cause celebre involving professors, students, movements, intellectuals and politicians. And of course, the Pope himself. Who must be praying for a stop to this wave of anti-clericalism.

The atmosphere is heating up with appeals, declarations, protest and counter-protest demonstrations, flyers, prayer vigils - a 'dust-up' that has taken on major proportions. With doubts and suspicions about a deliberate exploitation of the issue and with high-visibility gestures and words.

Vatican Radio has called it an attempt to censor the Pope, referring to the letter of some professors who asked the rector not to allow Benedict XVI into the university, and a sit-in against the visit by protesting students.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Rector Renato Guarini said that the letter came from a decided minority of the university's 4,500 faculty members, and ventured the thought that some of the signatories probably had never read anything written by Joseph Ratzinger. But he said the Pope would be welcomed at La Sapienza as a messenger of peace.

Nevertheless, the controversy is rising, with more announcements from the anti-Ratzinger elements, as well as declarations of support for the Pope from other quarters.

The anti-Papists are thinking up new ways to show their protest, such as attending the inaugural program, and then, upon the Pope's arrival, to cast off their academic gowns in protest. [How silly!] But many of the signatories themselves won't be there.

They plan to dress up the university's emblematic statue of Minerva as a transvestite, to 'de-baptize' the University Chapel (whatever that means), and a 'frocessione' to affirm homosexual rights 'denied' by the Church.

"Fra Giordano (Bruno) was burned at the state, Galileo recanted. But we will resist the Papacy! NO POPE!" says a giant streamer they have strung across the facade of the administration building. [That streamer shows the idiocy level of these protests!]

Meanwhile, Catholic student groups in the university are organizing themsevles for counter-actions in support of the Pope, starting with a prayer vigil Wednesday night in the university chapel which will also be visited by the Pope. Presiding at the prayers will be Mons, Enzo Dieci, auxiliary bishop for the north sector of the Diocese of Rome.

Today, students belonging to Comunione e Liberazione distributed flyers expressing their solidarity with the Pope "who has always advocated the central role of reason."

They claim that the overwhelming welcome for the Pope on Thursday will show that the protesters do not represent the whole university.

The group called Militia Christi is preparing streamers and posters to counter those of the protesters. And on Wwendesday night, the newspaper Il Foglio is hosting a secular vigil with addresses in defense of the freedom of speech, 'even' for Papa Ratzinger.

The political world weighed in on the controversy from the start with a bipartisan NO against the idea of closing the university to the Pope, although the extreme left in the coalition government has joined the anti-Papal protests.

Amaong the anti-protest comments y the pols: "The 67 professor signatories should be denounced" or "This represents a tragic episode, culturally and socially."

A party leader of Forza Italia (ex-Premier Berlusconi's party) said: "Those who disagree with the Pope have the right to call meetings within the University or outside to express their views - which would be more sensible than all their screaming and boos-and-whistles and unseemly clamor."

Francesco Storace, secretary-general of the Right coalition, said that the silence of Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni so far "is most shameful".

An ex-secretary of the radicals, Daniele Capezzone, said, "If Italian secularism has been reduced to this, then woe unto the secularists!"

And Mons. Rino Fisichella, rector of the Pontifical Lateran Unviversity, issued an appeal for 'confrontation without myopia nor ideological pre-conceptions' because only that way 'can we enirh each other."

Libero, 15 gennaio 2008


Unexplainable intolerance:
The university was Ratzinger's home

By MARCO TARQUINIO
Editorial, Avvenire
Jan. 15, 1008



La Sapienza is preparing to inaugurate the 705th year of its academic history. And through the initiative of Rector Renato Guarini and the university governing bodies, it was supposed to be with Benedict XVI, honoring itself as well as the guest. The Pope who is an academic, a thinker, and a man of faith.

But La Sapienza, against the happy expectations of most, finds itself impoverished this week - in fact, humiliated, a prisoner of the strategy of 'clamor and curses' manifested by a tumultuous company of professor-censors and a claque of professional dissenters.

A strategy that has no business in a university, but which - no matter how minoritarian its advocates are - has managed to infest La Sapienza, to the point of orchestrating an inane and insulting campaign to keep the Pope from speaking in a Roman university that was founded by a Pope.

La Sapienza is poorer - even if the protesters have managed to enlist a handful of 'young' dissenters (many of them not even its students) to prepare an 'assault of sound' to drown out the Pope's speech, and exult in having managed to show Italy and the world the unprecedented and once inconceivable idea of a university as a place of no-speech and no-listening (to 'unwelcome' views), of lack of courage and lack of freedom.

It is poorer now that a few dozen of its 4,500 faculty members have proclaimed themselves judge and jury of a summary trial against the Supreme Pontiff, Joseph Ratzinger - who just happens to be one of the most important intellectuals generated by European culture in our time - irredeemably branding themselves to be fanatics.

Of course, equally branded are the student groups (or presumed student groups) who succumb to prejudice and facile intolerance, but the responsibility for this entire episode weighs most on them - professors, scientists and researchers who should be reasonable and animated by a love for truth and clarity.

But they have instead chosen to pass judgment and decree ostracism on the basis of a partial statement mistakenly attributed to the object of their bile.

Contemptuous of facts - as are the journalists who write in mindless haste and the propagandists of ill will who could distort the lectio magistralis of Regensburg into an attack against Islam - these supposed scientists have been thundering against the Pope for allegedly having re-condemned Galileo.

And they have done so - not for people who know better, but for the ignorant - by sheer mis-statement (or perhaps ignorance) of the role played by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, alongside John Paul II, in restituting full and solemn justice to Galileo.

They simply wanted a pretext to be heard, and above all, to provoke a crisis by intimidation. In which they have succeeded. Managing thereby to unleash old ideological cliches under the banner of anti-clericalism.

Now the dissenters are under the illusion that they can in fact erect a barrier of conformism around the University and drown out non-conformist voices with a sonic siege.

And they intend to do this Thursday against a Pope who believes and constantly tells us - indicating the way of a renewed encounter between Christian faith and reason - that the city of man, our world, should be experienced and loved as our common home, a place to build the common good together, according to universal laws rooted in nature and in our conscience.

It seems like a crude and awkward return of 1968 counterculture. But even more than the inconvenient and irreverent cultural and existential concerns of 1968, the angry, censorious and hostile frenzy shown by this minoritarian sector at La Sapienza and their Roman allies is more reminiscent of 1961 in Berlin, during the hasty construction of the Wall that became the symbol of all walls and the absence of freedom and tolerance that they stand for.

There are those who are battling strenuously to build networks of irreconcilability between faith and reason, between nature and science, between moral duties and the rights of freedom.

And they would love to silence Benedict XVI who calls for re-centering culture and society in Christ. But the voice of the Pope - and his message - cannot be silenced. Nor confined behind the walls of prejudice and intolerance.

Avvenire, 15 gennaio 2008



A professor who opposes
his colleagues' dissent says:
Read Ratzinger first

By PAOLO VIANA
Avvenire
Jan. 15, 3008


Prof. Giorgio Israel, professor of the history of mathematics at La Sapienza, says a 'Wikipedia syndrome' has led his colleagues in the department of physics to protest the Pope's visit on Thursday.

With not a little irony, Israel explains why he did not sign the letter his physics colleagues tried to get other professors to sign [in the end 63 did, out of some 4,500 on the university faculty].

"First, they should have researched their objection properly, instead of picking out a statement out of context and misinterpreting it," he said. "Those who wrote that letter, basing their protest against the Pope on a statement made by someone else (Feyerabend), should have read Cardinal Ratzinger's full lecture and they would have seen that he was attacking neither science nor reason."


Your colleagues are indignant, they are offended, they are jumping up and down, and you laugh about it?
Let us say, out of decency, that I am shrugging my shoulders and hoping that their protest will be eclipsed soon.

But they must realize now that they have written an absurd letter protesting a lecture of Ratzinger which says the exact opposite of what they claim!


Can you be more precise?
The signatories of this letter to the university rector accuse the Pope, citing a statement he made which happens to be that of a philosopher of science who said that in Galileo's time, the Church was more faithful to science than Galileo himself, and therefore, the Church proceedings against him were 'reasonable and just'.

If, instead of waxing indignant over a supposed vulnus (wound) to the rational method, they had first read the entire lecture in which that statement was cited, they would know that Ratzinger was arguing for science and reason.

He was describing the crisis of faith in science per se, and was showing that while it had been thought for centuries that the Galileo trial proved the obscurantist character of the Church, different views emerged in modern times within the scientific community itself, including Feyerabend who thought that the Church's view at the time was more rational. It was not an attack on science.


How is it possible that this sense was not conveyed to scientists?
The signatories of the letter did not get it because they did not read the entire lecture, in which Ratzinger explicitly said that his intention was not to settle accounts, in effect, but to underline that faith does not grow by resenting and rejecting modernity.


What about the Italian scientific community as a whole?
I am convinced that the signatories are a minority, even if one of them happens to be the president of the National Research Council. The individual weight of some of the signatories cannot be ignored, but their numbers are small - 63 in a faculty of sciences which has more than 600 professors, in a university with thousands of professors.

That said, yes, there is hostility in the scientific community, even intolerance by some that a Pope should even presume to speak about science. But in a country where someone like Odifreddi [atheist, virulently anti-Church mathematician] sells 200,000 copies of a book against religion, that is not surprising.

These phenomena simply reflect that a part of the scientific world prefers aggressive atheist secularism, and that few on the left feel called on to oppose such excesses.

Avvenire, 15 gennaio 2008


Regurgitating vanquished ideologies
By Giuseppe Sanzotta
La Stampa
Jan. 15, 2008



We never thought we would get to this point - that a group of professors and students would arrive at wanting to censor the Pope.

Let us say it frankly: this is a blow to secularist culture, to science and to democracy.

Of course, one can disagree with the Church and Benedict XVI, and dissent is legitimate. But what is not is to attempt to prevent someone from speaking because we don't share his views.

Indeed the protestors have even attributed to the Pope paternity for a statement on Galileo which is not his. What kind of scientists are these? Do they even have any sense of culture at all? [Forget culture - what about elementary decency and plain honesty, to begin with. They are seeking to perpetrate a monstrous lie for their own purposes, and they see nothing wrong with that!]

They have the extremist mentality which many centuries ago gave rise to the Inquisition, the same ideological thinking that during Italy's Fascist period condemned all opposition t o silence. The same that brought dissenters int he Soviet Union to confinement in mental wards or in gulags.

This is not secularism. This is fundamentalism by those who want to deny freedom of expression to everyone.

Worse because the voice they wish to muzzle is the Pope, who represents hundreds of millions, history, tradition, as well as the faith and hope of Catholics.

The ruinous ideologies of the past may have fallen but not the walls of prejudice.

Let the Pope speak, without being interrupted, if only out of respect. He speaks for us all, including secularists who still believe in tolerance and the confrontation of ideas.

Il Tempo, 15 gennaio 2008


=====================================================================


Of course, the protesters know that their actions will not muzzle or silence the Pope, who does not need La Sapienza to have a pulpit from which to say what he has to say. But it is their way of calling attention to their views which - being extremist, uninformed and distinctively minoritarian - would otherwise never get attention even in Italy's secularistic, generally anti-Church media.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 15/01/2008 17.02]
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WORLD MEDIA PERPETRATES 'LA SAPIENZA' FALLACIES





Unfortunately, what the world is seeing so far about the La Sapienza case is through partial uncontested wire-service reports such as this one, which according to the Yahoo log, has already made the rounds of various news outlets around the world:



University staff and students
protest against papal visit



Rome, 15 Jan. (AKI) - Academics and students at one of Italy's most prestigious universities want a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to be cancelled because they oppose his position on the astonomer Galileo.

Pope Benedict XVI is to scheduled to visit La Sapienza University in Rome on Thursday.

But according to Italian media reports, 67 professors and lecturers have signed a letter saying the Pope's views on Galileo "offend and humiliate us".

They said it would be "incongruous" for the pontiff to open the university's academic year and want his visit to be stopped.

Their letter referred to a remark by Benedict, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, that the Catholic Church's trial of the Italian astronomer was "reasonable and just". [This is disgraceful! - for ADNkronos to perpetrate the dissenters' error, an dobviously not bothering themselves to research it, nor to read the Iralian media which - divided as it is - has pointed out more than abundantly in previous days that the dissenting professors committed a greivous sin of mis-attribution and therefore, condemning without reason!]

They claim the pontiff condoned the 1633 trial and conviction of Galileo for heresy after he argued that the earth revolved around the sun.

"In the name of the secular nature of science we hope this incongruous event can be cancelled," said the letter addressed to the university's rector, Renato Guarini.

La Sapienza physics professor Andrea Frova, author of a book about Galileo, and other academics at the university claims the church still tries to exercise its influence on scientific progress today.

Frova told the Italian daily, La Repubblica, inviting Pope Benedict to the university ceremony was like inviting a "Martian" and that he should not be allowed in. [This, from a professor in a university that hosted the far-out Raelians who claimed years ago that they had succeeded in producing human clones!]

In a separate move students at La Sapienza have begun a week-long "anticlerical " protest and have hung banners on the walls of university buildings.

The official programme has been changed so that Pope Benedict will present a standard speech - rather than a keynote speech at the university ceremony.

Vatican Radio said the protest at La Sapienza had "a censorious tone".

Pope Benedict was in charge of Roman Catholic doctrine in 1990 when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he commented on the 17th-Century Galileo trial. [Yes,but did you morons even bother to check out what he actually said?]

Galileo, a devout Catholic, was forced to renounce his findings publicly.

Fifteen years ago Pope John Paul II officially conceded that in fact the earth was not stationary. [That was not exactly what he conceded, obviously, but to phrase it that way makes the Church look really stupid, even an intellectual in his own right like John Paul II.]


The following, later DPA report, at least, reports the mis-attribution about Galileo correctly.

Sit-in at La Sapienza

Rome, Jan. 15 (dpa) - Around 100 students at Rome's La Sapienza University on Tuesday staged a sit-in at the campus' main hall in protest against Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit to the university later this week.

The university rector Renato Guarini who met the students in the afternoon said there was "bitterness" at the Vatican with the way certain students and lecturers were trying to disrupt the pontiff's visit scheduled for Thursday.

"The Pope is a man of culture and great thinker" who should be allowed to have his say, Guarini said in an interview with private news television news channel SkyTG24.

But the rector also said students and staff opposed to the Pope's visit would be able to voice their issues, provided they did so peacefully.

"I told the students they will be able to assemble on Thursday in front of the Literature and Philosophy faculty and discuss those matters dear to them," Guarini said.

Leftist students have threatened to disrupt Benedict's speech by playing loud rock music while a group of academics have signed a letter requesting that Guarini withdraw his invitation to the pontiff.

Benedict confirmed the invitation still stood.

The Vatican did not comment on Tuesday's protest, but on Monday its broadcaster, Vatican Radio, said attempts to prevent Benedict from speaking at the campus amounted to censorship.

The midday sit-in by the students came amid growing tension around the German-born pontiff's scheduled visit when he is set to speak at the inauguration of the university's new academic year.

Catholic and conservative politicians have condemned the actions as a sign of intolerance, while opinions in the country's governing centre-left have been split, with some saying the pontiff's opponents have the right to show their dissent.

Leftist activist and Nobel literature laureate, Dario Fo, was quoted as saying on Tuesday that while he was "perplexed" by the university's invitation to the pontiff, he should be allowed to speak on campus.

Fo told Rome-daily La Repubblica he was "against all forms of censorship, because the right to speak is sacred."

However, Fo said freedom of speech should be reciprocal.

"I don't think this church and this Pope can be taken as a model in terms of freedom of expression," he said.

Benedict as Pontiff "condemns centuries of scientific and cultural growth by affirming anachronistic dogmas such as creationism, while attacking scientific free-thought and promoting mandatory heterosexuality," students opposed to the visit who use the name, Physics Collective, said said in their website.

In their letter, the 67 academics opposed to the pontiff's visit, mainly called on the university to revoke the "disconcerting invite" to Benedict, whom they accuse of being a reactionary and an opponent of free-thought and research.

The lecturers cited a 1990 speech made by Benedict when he was still a cardinal in which he allegedly justified the Catholic Church's actions against Galileo.

During the 1990 speech delivered in Parma, Italy, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had quoted Austrian-born philosopher Paul Feyerabend in which he said that the church's 1633 heresy trial against Galileo was "reasonable and fair."

In court, Galileo was forced to recant his theories - later proved correct - that the planets, including the Earth, rotated around the Sun, which was at the centre of the solar system.

In 1992, Benedict's predecessor as pontiff, John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo was treated by the Catholic Church.


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WHO'S AFRAID OF PROFESSOR RATZINGER?




A brief bulletin from APCOM:

VATICAN CITY, Jan. 15 (Apcom) - Vatican sources reiterated today that 'for now', no changes are planned for the Pope's scheduled visit to La Sapienza University on Thusrday morning.

*******

NB: PETRUS has reported just now, under the byline of a Don Antonello Iapicca who had a lengthy article full of Biblical citations and reflections, rather than facts - but with no other attribution or source for the news - that the Pope had decided to cancel his visit to La Sapienza.



Italy's deputy PM writes Il Foglio


Dear Editor:

But what idea of freedom do these persons have who would prohibit Benedict XVI from speaking at La Sapienza University?

Anyone can dissent in the public discourse. Even against what the Pope says.

But the presumption of wanting to silence him in a place of study, training and dialog, the idea that such a space could be denied to the Bishop of Rome - an intellectual known for his profound culture, who was a university professor for decades, and successor to the man who founded La Sapienza 705 years ago - is inconceivable.

I wish to remind all those who protest against the Pope that all of us have an interest in preserving the places of culture and science free of political diatribe.


Francesco Rutelli
Vice President of
the Council of Ministers


Il Foglio, 15 gennaio 2008

====================================================================

Ex-President Cossiga writes the government:
'Protect the Pope, and if you can't,
revoke the visit'



ROME, Jan. 15 (Apcom) - President emeritus Francesco Cossiga has written the government to request them to guarantee "the physical security of the Pope" at La Sapienza University on Thursday.

He also asked, in a letter dripping with irony, whether it might me more prudent for the President of the Council of Ministers, his Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Interior and Research, to "inform the Holy see that the invitation to the Pope (from a state university) has been revoked by higher authority."

Cossiga said he was taking into account that the present government consists of "Catholics, even if self-defined 'adult Catholics' and/or neo-modernist 'Catholic democrats', or non-believers, or militants of the atheist movement of Prof. Odifreddi, and therefore obliged, by political and idealistic motives, to the rules of the most struct secularism in their isntitutional and political actions."

This is a premise, Cossiga wrote, that "under Articles 17 and 21 of the Italian Constitution, the professors and students of the L:a Sapienza University of Rome have a right to demonstrate and express their opinion against the presence of anyone .... even in the form of invectives, song-and-dance and other carnival acts, and if they are joined by members of social centers and 'black bloc' movements, of 'diobedients' and other groups belonging to the 'people of the Unuion", even in the form of 'low-intensity violence' against persons and things, which are normally tolerated by public authorities and by the courts - whioh are often called to intervene in cases like these, which is defined in the most recent jurisprudence as "reasons of specific moral value", namely, the battle against the obscurantism of the Catholic Church, and of its present leader, in particular."

"Have you thought - especially since this involves a head of state with whom Italy has excellent diplomatic relations, on the basis of the often-affirmed 'principles of secularity' of the State, that you might adopt, even if only for the issues of peace and the death penalty - to adopt every measure to safeguard the physical security of the Holy Father and his entourage, assuring him at least, of the freedom to be present, and, wherever he would be allowed freedom of speech, the safety as well of his audience...and to take urgent preventive measures to field special forces of both local and state police against any possible radical leftist uprising...?"

"Otherwise, to avoid further ridicule to our country....simply revoke the invitation to the Pope for ideological reasons ... or because the government is unable to provide the necessary security."

"An urgent reply is requested."


===================================================================

Here is a translation of he letter released today by the professors who initially protested the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to La Sapienza, as recounted briefly in the post below. I decided to post the letter here because it was released shortly before the Vatican decision was made known.


PROTESTING PROFESSORS
TAKE A STEP BACK BUT
THEIR LOGIC IS LAME!



ROME, Jan, 15 (Apcom) - "No one, least of all the professors at la Sapienza, wishes to exercise an arrogant right of censorship on the freedom of expression of religious thought, or political, in the name of secularity."

This appears in a new letter written by the same professors who wrote the November 22, 2007, letter protesting the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the university.

They claimed that at the time, they believed "the opening of the academic year - attended by professors and students of different political and religious persuasions - was not the right context for the visit of a Pope or any other religious or political authority who has no direct connection to the institution." [It took them two months to think up this lame pretext? Of course, any public gathering - university or otherwise - will include people of all persuasions! So???]

'In fact, teaching young people is a great responsibility which requires doing without one's religious or ideological convictions. [Look who's talking! They are still so blind as not to see how they are tripping up all over the place!]

"The presence of the Pope at the inaugural ceremony for the academic year would have proposed a very definite world view which places faith above any course of knowledge. [Dear God! The ignorant prejudice of these avowed atheists is abysmal!]

"Such a position could result - as has often resulted in the past - the source of censorship of knowledge and not the free confrontation of ideas." [And they call themselves scientists! Making a priori conclusions, to begin with - what could be more unscientific?; and b) never obviously having read anything of what this Pope has been saying; and c) not trusting their colleagues or their students to make up their own minds, which is the whole point of free speech. They may not have intended censorship - if you believe them - but pre-censorship, i.e., muzzling - which is worse!]

"In another, different context, the visit of the Pope to La Sapienza would have been welcome as would any form of dialog or confrontation between different cultures. [Oh yeah? They would find another pretext then. And is he not the same person they accuse of dissing Galileo - which is the one and only reason they gave for their opposition in their original letter of protest!]

"No one, least of all the professors of La Sapienza [Correction: "We 63 professors..." - Don't involve the 4440 others!], wishes to exercise an arrogant right of censorship on the freedom of expression of religious thought, or political, in the name of secularity, as even Galli della Loggia says in Corriere della Sera today." [Ooops! Enrolling Della Loggia intheir cause, when he was commenting against them!]

The rest of the letter, signed by Giancarlo Ruocco, head of the physics department, is a chronology of events:

"On November 14, 2007, Prof. Marcello Cini, emeritus professor of the University [So he's not even an active professor anymore! Since when is a retired professor allowed to intervene in academic affairs? It's as if Pope Benedict would try to exercise veto power over any guests that the University of Regensburg might want to invite!] sent an open letter to the Rector, which was published by Manifesto [the communist Party newspaper].

"The letter expressed disappointment at the Rector's decision to invite Pope Benedict XVI to deliver the lectio magistralis to open the academic year at La Sapienza. A few days later, on Nov. 22, 2007 - not on January 10, 2008, as erroneously reported - some professors who shared Prof. Cini's views decided they ought to support his initiative and sent a second letter to the Rector, requesting him to revoke the invitation.

"In both these letters, sent two months ago, there was no intention of censoring the Pope, only a desire on the part of the academic community [How can 67 out of 4500 claim to be 'the academic community?] to express their opinion with respect to the rector's decision. [But it was not just the rector's decision, It was something that had been approved by the Academic Senate of the university]

"Both letters were addressed to the Rector who had made the decision to inaugurate the academic year - a symbolic moment for the beginning of a new educational year [Oh, cut the crap!] - proposing as lecturer Benedict XVI, who is the highest cultural representative of a religious confession.

"The mass media, who rarely pay attention to the scientific and university world, now dedicate their front pages and the newscasts to the letter of the professors to the Rector - it was meant to be private - but ignored the open letter of Prof. Cini, sent two months ago.

"This decision [by the media] encouraged extremists to rally who have nothing to do with our communications two months ago with the Rector.
We hope that this event, which has acquired connotations in the media which do not favor dialog, will instead encourage a confrontation about the freedom of secular thought - neither confessional nor political - in the educational institutions for young people, to debate over the proper place for discussion, and when and where it is legitimate to relate faith and reason."

[So now, they blame the media too. But why didn't they protest earlier? They wanted the publicity that the media generated! This letter was a last-ditch effort to save face, but the best way for them to save face is to say, "We're sorry, we mis-read the Cardinal's 1990 speech" and to give up this ridiculous position that discussions within a university cannot include anything political or religious. They are perhaps more mad than stupid!]

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/01/2008 06.42]
15/01/2008 18.40
 
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WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

VATICAN CITY, 15 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI will preside at Vespers to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Friday, Jan. 25, at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls .

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, begins on Friday.

The theme chosen for this year's initiative, taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, is: "Pray without ceasing".

The texts for reflection and prayer have been prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.

Each day of the Week will have a different theme:

18 January: Pray always. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5, 17).

19 January: Pray always, trusting God alone. "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5, 18).

20 January: Pray without ceasing for the conversion of hearts. "Admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted" (1 Thessalonians 5, 14).

21 January: Pray always for justice. "See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all" (1 Thessalonians 5, 15).

22 January: Pray constantly with a patient heart. "Be patient with all of them" (1 Thessalonians 5, 14).

23 January: Pray always for grace to work with God. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5, 16).

24 January: Pray for what we need. ". help the weak" (1 Thessalonians 5, 14).

25 January: Pray always that they all may be one. "Be at peace" (1 Thessalonians 5, 13b)

Although the traditional period for celebrating this week of prayer is in the month of January, in the southern hemisphere Churches sometimes seek other periods such as, for example, around the time of Pentecost, which is also a symbolically significant date for the unity of the Church, and was suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926.

15/01/2008 19.12
 
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SO IT ENDS: POPE DECIDES TO CANCEL VISIT TO 'LA SAPIENZA'



A very sudden development but I have not traced the first bulletins. However, here is Corriere della Sera's story online, translated here:

VATICAN CITY - A coup de theatre in the contested visit of Benedict XVI to La Sapienza University on Thursday for the inauguration of the academic year.

The Vatican has cancelled the visit, saying it was found best to 'postpone' the visit for another time, considering the well-publicized events of the past few days.

A statement from the Vatican Press office said the Pope will limit himself to sending the university the address which he intended to deliver at Rome's oldest university.

"Following the well-known developments the past few days related to the visit of the Holy Father to the University of Studies La Sapienza," the note said, " it was decided to postpone the visit. The Holy Father will, nevertheless, send on his planned address."

The Pope's decision has touched off a wave of reactions, starting with Prime Minister Romano Prodi - commenting on the whole episode for the first time - who condemned what he called 'an unacceptable climate'.

But Prodi's office made clear that the decision, taken early Tuesday afternoon, had nothing to do with security problems, since all arrangements had been made by government forces of law and order on the regional and local levels.

Italian officials speculated that the decision was taken more for reasons of 'image', in order to avoid any possible embarrassing demonstrations in the presence of the Pope, which would have been carried in TYV images around the world.

"There has been no hint of any threats, internal or international, or an expectation of violent protests," it added.

Sources said the most recent meetings of the forces in charge of security and order had encountered no special security problems and that even the Pope's security officers were satisfied.

NB: THE DECISION WAS OBVIOUSLY TAKEN AFTER TOMORROW'S ISSUE OF L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO HAD BEEN PRINTED, BECAUSE IT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE 1/16/08 ISSUE POSTED ONLINE LATE TODAY.

INSTEAD, O.R. CARRIES AN ARTICLE BY PROF. GIORGIO ISRAEL, WHO POINTS OUT THAT THE 1990 LECTURE BY THE POPE WHICH MENTIONED FEYERABEND'S STATEMENTS ON GALILEO WAS, IN FACT, FIRST MADE, AT LA SAPIENZA ITSELF, ON FEB. 15, 1990, BEFORE HE DELIVERED IT IN PARMA one month later (it is the Parma date that appears in the 1992 book, which contains the text of that lecture).

Also, because of the Vatican decision, a late-breaking development on the part of the professor-protesters has been pushed behind, but it is quite significant:

PROFESSOR-PROTESTORS EARLIER TODAY
WROTE TO SAY THEY NEVER INTENDED
TO SILENCE THE POPE!


The signatories released a new letter today saying that they "never intended to censor" the Pope, and that his presence "at any other occasion would have been welcome."

[BUT WHAT DO YOU CALL NOT EVEN WANTING HIS PRESENCE IN THE UNIVERSITY, AND WHAT WOULD MAKE HIM WELCOME TO THEM ON 'ANY OTHER OCCASION'?]


[I have posted a full translation of the letter at the bottom of the post before last - Post 11419 - since it was released before the cancellation. Too bad the cancellation will probably mean the media won't pay much attention to the letter now - but it has to be read to further 'appreciate' the mindset of these professors!]

=====================================================================


Here is how it has been reported in the Anglophone media so far. First off the mark was Jeff Israely of TIME:

Pope Cancels University Visit
By JEFF ISRAELY
TIME Magazine
Jan. 15, 2008


After three days of rising protests from students and professors, Pope Benedict XVI has pulled out of a long scheduled visit Thursday to Rome's historic La Sapienza University.

The surprise announcement Tuesday afternoon caps a high-stakes academic firefight between fiercely secular scholars and the former professor Pontiff that included a letter from 67 faculty members calling for the cancellation of Benedict's speech.

The Pope's opponents burst out in celebration at the east Rome campus when reached with the news of the cancellation. The Vatican released a statement saying it now viewed the visit as "inopportune" in light of protests they say could damage the pontiff's image.

But by backing out under pressure from his secular foes, the 80-year-old Pope may yet have the last word in this battle over the meaning of "reason" in today's intellectual debate.

For the whiff of censorship toward a figure who is welcomed in myriad settings across the world - both for his position and his intellect - may offer ammunition for Benedict's belief that he is something of a "Pope under siege" in the face of the prevailing secular winds of his times.

The Pontiff had been invited by the La Sapienza rector to speak at the annual ceremony to inaugurate the academic year. Over the weekend, unwelcoming banners were already appearing on campus saying "No to the Pope" and "La Sapienza Hostage to the Pope," and several left-wing student groups had promised widespread heckling for Benedict's arrival on Thursday.

But perhaps most notable was the professors' letter, which was printed in the Rome daily La Repubblica, calling on school officials to cancel the papal appearance, which they said was "incompatible" with the university's secular mission. ["Perhaps most notable'? That was what started the whole thing!]

The rector of the 705-year-old university adamantly defended his invitation, which he says he'd do "100 times" over, and Vatican radio warned of "censorship" on the part of the protesting profs.

The letter, which was signed by several notable members of the Physics faculty, cites a 1990 speech made by Benedict, then the Vatican Cardinal in charge of Church doctrine, describing the Church's 17th century heresy trial against Galileo as "reasonable and fair."

The famed Tuscan-born astronomer had been prosecuted for affirming that the Earth was not the center of the universe, but in fact orbited the Sun along with the other planets.

Two years after the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's speech, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Church had treated Galileo, whose heliocentric theories have long since been proven correct.

The future Pope's words, reads the text of the professors' letter, "offend and humiliate us as scientists faithful to reason and as teachers who dedicate our lives to the advancement and spread of knowledge."

The truth is that neither Benedict nor his secular critics in Rome are all that interested in revisiting the debates of the past; there is plenty of fresh intellectual manna now to tussle over. And Benedict, with his rigorous academic background, is increasingly the focus of the attention.

Indeed, the most highly charged moment of Benedict XVI's papacy thus far came in the gracious confines of a German university lecture hall. On that late afternoon of September 12, 2006, the Pope's discourse on faith, reason and violence at the University of Regensberg, where he'd once taught theology, was greeted with long and warm applause by the audience of academics proud that their fellow Bavarian intellectual had risen to the throne of St. Peter.

Only later was the lasting significance [but not what Israely means!] of the lecture registered: Muslims expressed outrage at references to the prophet Muhammed, and the implication that Islam was predisposed to violence, whereas papal supporters praised Benedict for the frankness of his argument in light of world events.

As opposed to the "inter-civilization" fallout from the 2006 Regensberg address, the battlelines being drawn around La Sapienza were part of an ongoing internal struggle within the West.

The public skirmishes occur on the now familiar terrain of bioethics, abortion, Darwin, and separation of church and state. But being a lifelong man of study and reflection, Benedict also sees the source for much of the conflict in how ideas germinate and spread on university campuses.

Biographers say his experience as a professor during the student upheavals of the late 1960s - where he believed a godless pursuit of personal freedom was spiraling out of control - helped shape his view of contemporary secular culture and the current state of academia.

Forty years later, he appears only more convinced that something is awry. In the same Regensberg lecture that criticized Islam for lacking a fundamental belief in reason, the Pope was also sending a warning to the West that reason itself was suffocating faith and destroying its historical identity.

By offering himself up as victim of the La Sapienza professors he can cite further evidence for this argument right in his own backyard. [*&^%$#@*&^%$#@*&^%$#@!!!!]


[Strange that Israely's conclusione matches that of the primary signatory of the professos' letter - see last sentence of AFP story below. Or is it simply that birds of a feather think together?]

====================================================================

The Italian media suggested earlier that the Pope cancelled because of 'image' reasons, and now Israely as well as the professor protester says it's to 'play the victim and gain sympathy'. He does not have to play the victim - he has been a victim for so many groups and interests all these decades.

And to attribute this motivation to him for the cancellation is a projection on the part of those who make the accusation - as though the Pope were a run-of-the-mill politician and not the Vicar o Christ.

Does it not make more sense to think he simply does not want to endanger anyone if things should turn difficult or violent? He would have more than enough security, but what about everybody else who might be injured if the demonstrations took a bad turn? Especially since there were planned counter-protests to the protests.

Once again, the Pope does not need La Sapienza for a pulpit - he can speak anywhere, and his words will be reported. It's entirely La Sapienza's loss, not his.

And a shame, of course, for all the liberals who are supposed to be the champions of free speech. But as we have seen in the case of the traditional Mass, liberals have a strange way of wanting to deny freedom to those they disagree with.



Avoiding scientists' protests,
Pope cancels university speech



ROME, Jan. 15 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday cancelled a speech at Rome's La Sapienza university in the face of protests led by scientists opposed to a high-profile visit by the head of the Catholic Church to a secular setting.

"Following the well-noted controversy of recent days ... it was considered appropriate to postpone the event," which had been set for Thursday, a Vatican communique said, in the first such cancellation in the face of hostility since the pope's election in April 2005.

Many scientists fault the intellectual, conservative and tradition-minded pope for a series of positions he has taken that they say subordinate science and reason to faith.

The protest against the visit was spearheaded by physicist Marcello Cini, a professor emeritus of La Sapienza, who wrote to rector Renato Guarini complaining of an "incredible violation" of the university's autonomy.

Sixty-seven professors and researchers of the sprawling university's physics department, as well as radical students, joined in the call for the pope to stay away on Thursday, the start of the university's academic year.

Students opposed to the visit kicked off "an anti-clergy week" on Monday by showing a film on Galileo, the 17th-century physicist who ran afoul of Church doctrine by insisting that the Earth orbits the Sun.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi condemned the professors and students for "intolerance" towards the pontiff, and renewed the invitation for Benedict to visit the public university.

"I condemn the acts, statements and attitudes that provoked unacceptable tension and a climate that does not honour Italy's traditions of civility and tolerance," Prodi said, according to the ANSA news agency.

Signatories to the letter protesting the planned visit recalled a 1990 speech in which the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and head of the Roman Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog, seemed to justify the Inquisition's verdict against Galileo in 1633.

In the speech, Ratzinger quoted an Austrian philosopher who said the ruling was "rational and just".

He concluded with the remark: "The faith does not grow from resentment and the rejection of rationality, but from its fundamental affirmation, and from being rooted in a still greater form of reason."

One of the protesting professors, Carlo Cosmelli, told AFP: "Since the conviction of Galileo ... physicists are especially sensitive over interference by the Catholic Church in the scientific domain."

The pope -- who also faces criticism for perceived interference in Italian political and social affairs -- "has made more and more remarks on the theme of the necessary subordination of science to faith," Cosmelli said.

The controversy is the most heated since the pope's speech of September 2006 at Renesburg University when he inflamed the Muslim world with remarks -- also quoting someone else, in that case a Byzantine emperor -- appearing to link Islam with violence.

Cosmelli said the Galileo remarks were "just as problematic."

Cini also recalled a colloquium on Darwin held by Benedict in September 2006 in which the "intelligent design" movement was given precedence over the theory of evolution.

"The Church can no longer use pyres or corporal punishment," Cini said in the communist daily Il Manifesto. "Today it uses the Enlightenment's God of Reason as a Trojan horse to enter the citadel of scientific knowledge."

The scientists' revolt, initially discreet, snowballed after radical students took up the cause.

On Tuesday they briefly occupied the rector's offices seeking the right to demonstrate on Thursday.

Benedict's predecessor John Paul II, who visited the school only once, in April 1991, also faced strident heckling and whistles by small groups of protesters.

Cini said of Benedict on Thursday: "By cancelling, he is playing the victim, which is very intelligent. It will be a pretext for accusing us of refusing dialogue. [*&^%$#@*&^%$#@*&^%$#@!!!!]


And the New York Times story to come out tomorrow:

Pope canceled speech after
protest at university

By IAN FISHER
New York Times
Published: January 16, 2008



ROME — Pope Benedict XVI, in a rare papal acquiescence to protest, has canceled a speech at the prestigious Sapienza University here amid opposition by professors and students who say he is hostile to science.

“Following the well-known events of recent days,” said a Vatican statement released Tuesday, “it seems opportune to delay the event.” The statement said that a text of the speech, which was to have been given on Thursday, would still be sent to the university.

Dozens of students staging a sit-in at the university, where banners have been hung urging Benedict to stay away, cheered after the statement was released.

But the decision also provoked anger about intimidation and censorship, stirring Italy’s always sensitive relations between its religious and secular traditions. Renato Guarini, the university’s rector, told reporters that the cancellation was “a defeat for the freedom of expression.”

Prime Minister Romano Prodi, one of many politicians who condemned the decision, said, “No voice should be stifled in our country, least of all the pope’s.”

The pope’s speech at the university, which was founded by Pope Boniface VIII in 1303 and is now public, was to mark the start of the academic year. But professors and students objected, citing specifically a speech that Benedict gave in 1990, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, on Galileo, condemned by the Inquisition in the early 1600s for arguing that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

In that speech, Cardinal Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005, quoted the Austrian philosopher Paul Feyerabend as saying: “The church at the time was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just.”

In the speech, Cardinal Ratzinger did not argue against the validity of science generally or take the church’s position from Galileo’s time that heliocentrism was heretical. But he asserted, as he has often since elected pope, that science should not close off religion and that science has been used in destructive ways.

Marcello Cini, a prominent physicist at the university who led the protest, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying he was “satisfied” at the cancellation. “I thought, and I continue to think, that his visit was ambiguous and an attack on the independence of culture and the university,” he said. [Prof. Cini, age must be getting to you, but how is free expression anywhere an attack on the independece of culture and the university????]

Papal appearances are rarely canceled, and usually for reasons of security or illness. In 1991, Pope John Paul II also faced small protests in his only visit to La Sapienza.


====================================================================

REACTIONS IN ITALY


From the Italian news agency AGR:

ROMA - Clamorous applause greeted the news that the Pope cancelled his visit to La Sapienza during a meeting of protesting students at the department of political sciences.

The students then started to chant "Fuori il Papa dall'Universita" (Keep the Pope out of the university).


Here is Corriere's round-up of immediate reactions:

"Profound regret" was Prime Minister Romano Prodi's first comment.[DIM]pt[=DIM].[I must point out that Prodi and other ranking members of his government, with the exception of Justice Minister Mastella, said absolutely nothing about this whole event before this. One might have expected more 'balls' from them.!]

"I condemn the actions, the statements and the attitudes which provoked an unacceptable tension and a climate that does no honor to the civilized traditions and tolerance of the Italian people. I therefore express my profound regret for the decision of Pope Benedict XVI, and express my strong and convinced solidarity with him, renewing the invitation to him. No voice should be silenced in his country, least of all, that of the Pope."

Silvio Berlusconi, president of Forza Italia and former Prime Minister: "This is a wound that is humiliating for the university and for Italy. The cancellation which the Pope was led to in the name of a presumed secularity of knowledge is the sign of intolerance and a certain fanaticism which have nothing to do authentic secularity - that the Italian university and the State have not shown themselves capable of guaranteeing freedom of expression to the highest religious authority.

"On e again, the left should make an examination of conscience: the alliance with intolerant fringe groups and the campaign of ideological anti-clericalism fomented by some parties, have created the climate in which this shameful episode could mature."

Senate President Franco Marini: "I express my profound regret in my name and in that of the Senate for the way in which this episode has developed and ended."

House leader Pier Ferdinando Casini: "Congratulations to the signatories of the letter protesting the Pope's visit. Their intolerance has demonstrated the state of desolation in Italian universities and the cultural weakness of the holdovers from the counterculture of 1968. If these are our children's teachers, then we must fear for our future."

Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome and secretary of the new Partido Democrata: "This is a blow to liberal culture and the fundamental principle of the free exchange of ideas and respect for institutions. Every criticism is legitimate and the confrontation of views is the oxygen for our coexistence, but every instance of intolerance, such as those that have been demonstrated these oast few days against the Pope, do harm to democracy and freedom."

Fabio Mussi, Minister for Universities and Research: "This was a very serious mistake for the university and its mission. The university is a place that should welcome not resist (thought). It is not necessary to agree with what the Pope says, but is not right not to let him talk."


Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, emeritus archbishop of Ravenna: "The Pope was right to cancel the visit, refusing to rise to the bait of those who are hostile to him. This is cause for great bitterness, for believers as well as non-believers."

Francesco Storace, secretary of the rightist party La Destra: "This is an unprecedented scandal. The hooligans and their ill-intentioned masters have prevailed."

Enrico Boselli, president of the Socialist Party: "No one has the right to muzzle the Pope, just as students and intellectuals have the right to criticize."

Andrea Ronchi, spokesman of the Alleanza Nazionale: "We are profoundly indignant at the pseudo-cultural clamor that has been created, fed by the usual anti-clerical post-Marxist groups who are in permanent service. The pseudo-left has written a very sad page in this country's history."

Franco Giordano, secretary of Rifondazione Comunista: "I think that the first principle of secularity is the free confrontation of ideas and the freedom of expression even of things that are different and very remote from that of the listener."

Gianfranco Rotondi, secretary of Democrata Cristiana: "The anti-clerical winds in the West and in modern times are very concerning. The decision of the Holy Father to cancel his visit should lead to deep reflection."

Giuseppe Fioroni, Minister of Public Instruction: "The cancellation of the Holy Father's visit is not good news, not for La Sapienza. not for the students, not even for those who wanted this to happen."

Antonio di Pietro, Minister of Infrastructure and leader of the Party Italia dei valori (Italy of values): "To prevent whoever thinks differently from expressing himself is behavior unworthy of any good Christian, and above all, of any good citizen."

Roberto Castelli, head of the senators belonging to the Lega Nord: "The Red Nazis have prevailed. Only those who have no arguments to offer are afraid of others' views and resort to violence and intolerance. I am a Galileo admirer and precisely because of this, I would not fear to face anyone who chooses to argue on faith rather than reason." [[But the Pope is not doing that!]

The political office of the party Udeur: "This is a painful episode, the outcome of a secularist row promoted by the anti-clerical left who aimed for such a confrontation to revive anti-Catholicism."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/01/2008 03.49]
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