Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dumb Italian's.

ROME (Reuters) - Forget the U.S. debate over intelligent design versus evolution. An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

Oh great. This could be bad for that court. Given that it is the Roman Catholic Church.

he case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.

The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.

I knew there would be an atheist in this story somewhere.

"I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.

So he isn't the run of the mill atheist. He doesn't believe in God and he hates the Church for it.

Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is "Sostituzione di Persona", or impersonation.

But, he is suing...

Speaking to Reuters, Righi, 76, sounded frustrated by the case and baffled as to why Cascioli -- who, like him, came from the town of Bagnoregio -- singled him out in his crusade against the Church.

"We're both from Bagnoregio, both of us. We were in seminary together. Then he took a different path and we didn't see each other anymore," Righi said.

"Since I'm a priest, and I write in the parish newspaper, he is now suing me because I 'trick' the people."

Why does he single out a man from his child hood home? A man that went to the same school? A man for all intensive purposes his opposite?

Even Cascioli admits that the odds are against him, especially in Roman Catholic Italy."It would take a miracle to win," he joked.

Somebody may end up smitten at the end of this one.

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