Huge crowd flocks to support Pope

Tens of thousands of supporters gathered en mass in St Peter's Square on Sunday, to show solidarity for Pope Benedict after staff and students from a Rome university last week protested a visit by the Holy Father.

The visit to La Sapienza University was meant to take place last Thursday, however the Vatican cancelled after 67 professors signed a letter objecting his attendance citing the Pope was "anti-science".

Students had also planned loud and offensive protests.

However, Catholic Online reports, more than 200,000 supporters - which include the television link-ups - rallied amid applause and cheers to show their solidarity with the Pope.

After the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the crowd, thanking everyone "from my heart", and thanked Cardinal Ruini, who had promoted the show of support.

"As you know, I had very willingly accepted the courteous invitation extended to me to speak last Thursday at the inauguration of the academic year at La Sapienza," the Pope said.

"I know this university very well; I respect it and I am fond of the students who attend it: every year, on various occasions, many of them come to meet me at the Vatican, together with their peers from the other universities.

"Unfortunately, as is well known, the atmosphere that was created made my presence at the ceremony inadvisable. I cancelled the visit unwillingly, but in any case I wanted to send the text that I had prepared for the occasion," he said.

BREAKING: Two hundred thousand gather in solidarity with the Pope(Catholic OnLine 21/01/08)

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

Lack of dignity and tranquility behind Pope's postponement (CathNews 18/01/08)
Chantimg students support Pope (CathNews 17/01/08)
Pope scraps Uni Visit (CathNews 16/01/08)
Scientists and students protest against Pope (CathNews 15/01/08)
Church 'never persecuted Galileo Galilei' (CathNews 26/08/03)

22 Jan 2008