View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Priest sued for saying Christ exists

VITERBO, Italy (AFP) An Italian magistrate mulled whether a 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest should stand trial for asserting the existence of Christ.

The case was brought by atheist author Luigi Cascioli, who told reporters Friday he was happy the case, first brought in 2002, had come to court.

"Christ never existed, but is an invention of the Church," said Cascioli, accusing the priest, Enrico Righi, of misleading the public by presenting Jesus as an historical figure.

Cascioli, 72, said Righi in his role as parish priest had violated article 661 of the Italian penal code which, under the term "abuse of popular gullibility", sanctions people who mislead others.

Cascioli, an agronomist by training, used the occasion to promote his book "The fable of Christ" in interviews with foreign journalists intrigued by the case.

The priest did not appear for the preliminary hearing at the court in Viterbo, but was represented by his lawyer.

Righi had asserted the historical existence of Christ in a parish newsletter.

Judge Gaetano Mautone adjourned the case after the behind-closed-doors hearing on Friday in which he heard legal argument from lawyers for both men.

Imagine if the judge rules against the priest, and it becomes a crime to affirm the existence of Christ!

Pope Benedict might run into a few problems.

Well, Italy is part of the EU, and some folks in that organization want to make it basically illegal to oppose gay marriage.

I'm reminded of the 1990s version of "The Miracle on 34th Street" and how the judge in the movie got around the question of the existence of Santa Claus.

I hope the Italian judge saw that movie.


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