Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Pope Benedict XVI last night called off a visit to Rome's main university in the face of hostility from some of its academics and students, who accused him of despising science and defending the Inquisition's condemnation of Galileo.
The controversy was unparalleled in a country where criticism of the Roman Catholic church is normally muted. The Pope had been due to speak tomorrow during ceremonies marking the start of the academic year at Rome's largest and oldest university, La Sapienza. But the Vatican said last night it had been "considered opportune to postpone" his visit.

The announcement followed a break-in and sit-in at the rector's office yesterday by about 50 students and a furious row over a letter signed by more than 60 of La Sapienza's teachers, asking that the invitation to the Pope be rescinded.

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