Regarding my little report on the red Mussolini’s at an Italian university trying to shut down a speech by the Pope, LifeSiteNews has more on it today:
The worldwide media is watching a Rome in turmoil, divided between a small group of academics and students and faithful Catholics, in developments of the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s cancellation of a visit to La Sapienza, a university founded by the papacy in 1303.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, explained the decision to cancel the Pope’s appearance in a letter to the rector of the university.
“As, unfortunately, the prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome were not present, because of an initiative by a decidedly minority group of professors and students, it was judged opportune to postpone the scheduled visit in order to remove any pretext for demonstrations which would have been unfortunate for everyone concerned,” he wrote.
Bertone continued by saying that since there were professors and students who wanted “a culturally meaningful word, whence to draw stimuli for their own journey in search of truth, the Holy Father has instructed that the text he prepared for the occasion be sent to you.”
Following the protests against Pope Benedict (See LifeSiteNews Coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/jan/08011602.html), staged by professors and students of La Sapienza who felt threatened by the Pontiff’s view that faith and reason go hand in hand, Cardinal Camillo Ruini encouraged all of Rome to gather in St. Peter’s square to show their affection for the Pope.
“The Vicariate, in close connection with the competent bodies of the Holy See, followed the sad vicissitudes which led the Holy Father to cancel his visit to the La Sapienza University, to which he had been invited many months ago,” he said.
“Under these circumstances, which are a cause of suffering for our whole city, the Church in Rome wishes to express filial and total support for her Bishop, the Pope, and to express to Benedict XVI the love, confidence, admiration and gratitude which lies in the heart of the people of Rome. So that everyone may express these sentiments, I invite the faithful and all the people of Rome to come to St. Peter’s Square for the midday prayer of the Angelus on Sunday 20 January. This will be a gesture of affection and serenity, an expression of our joy for having Benedict XVI as our Bishop and our Pope.”
Students from La Sapienza flocked to Benedict’s general audience on Wednesday January 16, bearing banners with slogans supportive of the Pope.
Another group of students from La Sapienza, however, responded to the call with an anti-papal rally in the streets of Rome. Riot police were deployed to guard the demonstration at La Sapienza, where students marched in the rain with banners reading “Freedom for the University.”
“The fight pays off: Ratzinger’s visit to the university was rejected!” read a pamphlet some of the students distributed. “We must continue to fight against the Vatican and its servants.”
At the same time as the rally, the ceremonies to open La Sapienza’s academic year were underway, where the absence of Benedict XVI, a scholar and former professor, echoed far louder than the protests that made his absence necessary. Speakers at the event took the intolerance shown to the Pope as their theme, warning against academic snobbery and pride.
“Ideological vetoes of any kind are unacceptable,” said Renato Guarini, the chancellor of La Sapienza. “Everyone must have space and be respected, whatever their opinion.”
Guarini said he planned to invite the Pope again.
“Intolerance can never be allowed to remove someone’s right to speak,” said Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome, in his address to the university. “Less still if . . . it is Pope Benedict – a cultural, spiritual and moral reference point for millions.”
The Pope’s speech was read aloud by a faculty member to a standing ovation and the shout of “Viva il Papa” (“Long live the Pope”) from students. The speech contained exactly what the protestors did not wish to be said at La Sapienza: an affirmation of the human desire for truth, the debunking of the myth that the Pope is tying to impose his faith on others, and the fact that faith and reason must go together to find truth.
“What does the Pope have to say at a university? He surely doesn’t need to try and impose faith in an authoritarian way, that can only come by free will,” said Benedict XVI’s prepared speech. “Aside from [the Pope’s] ministry as Pastor in the Church, and following the implicit nature of this pastoral ministry it is my job to keep awake the desire for truth.”
Truth is more than knowledge, said the Pope. The ancient philosophers found knowledge alone to be a source of sadness, but the truth is what makes people free.
In this freedom, the Gospel aims “at putting reason on the path searching for the truth, for what is good, for God. And following this path, inviting reason to spot the useful lights that appeared in the history of Christian faith, hence perceiving Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates history and helps find the way towards the future.” (LifeSiteNews)
The poor dears. They can stomach every sort of perverse ideology and instruction, but they can’t stand that others would actually want to be edified by a brilliant man and former professor. This is the text of the speech the Pope would have given. I know, I know. It’s clearly something that deserves censorship. Whether pushing the Islamicists to renounce violence or challenging the demented left to face their own gaping incoherencies, Benedict XVI is making his mark. Sadly, I don’t think the event at this university is a one-off. I have long suspected that a time will come where the Pope will not be able to travel freely in different parts of the world. Little did I know it would be in his own backyard at a university the Catholic Church founded. Welcome to the real dark ages.