Protests force Pope to scrap uni visit

Pope Benedict has cancelled his visit to a prestigious Rome university amid
protests by academics and students which threatened to ruin the event.

Reuters reports the visit at La Sapienza, which was planned to take place tomorrow, was marred by a protest which begun as a petition signed by 67 professors who griped the Pope was a "backward theologian who put religion before science".

Left wing student groups jumped on the bandwagon staging a sit-in on Tuesday
occupying the offices of the chancellor. They had declared an "anti-clerical" week and hung banners protesting against the Pope's visit.

The student group had threatened they would play loud music during the Pope's speech.

Reuters reports the Vatican decided to "postpone" the trip but that the Pontiff would still provide a text copy of his speech.

Italy's minister in charge of universities, Fabio Mussi said he was "very disappointed".

"You don't have to share the Pope's ideas but you should let him speak," Mr Mussi said.

However, Professor Andrea Sterbini, one of the signatories, said the visit was "not a good thing as science doesn't need religion."

Outspoken critic of the Church Dario Fo, a Nobel prize winner, defended the Pope's right to speak saying he was against any form of censorship.

Ironically, La Sapienza, was founded by a pope 705 years ago.

Pope scraps university visit after protests, (Reuters 16/01/08)
Pope cancels visit to university after students threaten protests, (Catholic News Service 16/01/08)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
La Sapienza University
Galileo Galilei (Wikipedia)

Scientists and students protest against Pope (CathNews 15/01/08)
Church 'never persecuted Galileo Galilei' (CathNews 26/08/03)

16 Jan 2008