Scholars protest at papal visit

Scholars protest at papal visit

Lecturers and students at a prestigious university in Rome want a planned visit by the Pope to be cancelled as they object to his position on Galileo.

Pope Benedict XVI is to make a speech on Thursday at La Sapienza university.

Sixty-seven academics have signed a letter saying the Pope’s views on Galileo “offend and humiliate us”.

They say he condoned the 1633 trial and conviction of Galileo for heresy. The astronomer had argued that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

The academics said it would be inappropriate for the Pope to open their academic year on Thursday.

“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.

In a separate initiative students at La Sapienza have organised four days of protest this week. The first revolved around an anti-clerical meal of bread, pork and wine, the BBC’s Christian Fraser reports from Rome.