18-January-2008 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Sapienza Rector To Re-invite Pope, Papal Discourse Read by Professor Gets Standing Ovation

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The rector of Rome's Sapienza University announced that he will re-invite Benedict XVI to visit the institution.

Renato Guarini affirmed this after the inauguration ceremony today that was supposed to have included a lecture given by the Pope. The Vatican announced Tuesday that the visit would be postponed, due to what the Pope's secretary of state called a lack of the "prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome."

A small protest that eventually reached the point of several students occupying the rector's offices motivated the Holy See to cancel the visit. The protestors called the Pope "hostile" to science and took issue with a 1990 speech by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Galileo case.

The 1990 speech in its entirety showed the protestors to have taken Cardinal Ratzinger's words out of context.

Guarini said, "I will offer a new invitation to the Pope, Benedict XVI." He said the invitation would "be in accord with the desire of the majority of Sapienza's academic community."

During the inauguration ceremony, a professor read the discourse the Holy Father had prepared for the occasion. A standing ovation and students' shouts of "Long live the Pope" followed the reading.

Fabio Mussi, the Italian minister of education, and Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome, were present.

Protests around the university continued, since the issue has ballooned into a national debate about the roles of science and religion. Auxiliary Bishop Enzo Dieci of Rome was blocked from entering the university, thus impeding him from celebrating Mass in its chapel.

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