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2/19/2006

JUDGE TO RULE ON CHRIST CASE

By MARTA FALCONI, Associated Press Writer (HT:JJ)

VITERBO, Italy - An Italian judge heard arguments Friday on whether a small-town parish priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed.

The priest's atheist accuser, Luigi Cascioli, says the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed, and that the Rev. Enrico Righi violated two Italian laws by reasserting the claim.

Lawyers for Righi and Cascioli, old schoolmates, made their arguments in a brief, closed-door hearing before Judge Gaetano Mautone in Viterbo, north of Rome. They said they expected the judge to decide quickly.

Cascioli filed a criminal complaint in 2002 after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli claims that Righi's assertion constituted two crimes under Italian law: so-called "abuse of popular belief," in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation," in which someone gains by attributing a false name to a person.

"The point is not to establish whether Jesus existed or not, but if there is a question of possible fraud," Cascioli's attorney, Mauro Fonzo, told reporters before the hearing.

Cascioli says the church has been gaining financially by "impersonating" as Christ someone by the name of John of Gamala, the son of Judas from Gamala.

He has said he has little hope of the case succeeding in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Italy, but that he is merely going through the necessary legal steps to reach the European Court of Human Rights, where he intends to accuse the church of what he calls "religious racism."

Righi, 76, has stressed substantial historical evidence — both Christian and non-Christian — of Jesus' existence.

"Don Righi is innocent because he said and wrote what he has the duty to say and write," Righi's attorney, Severo Bruno, told reporters.

He said he told Mautone during the hearing that Righi was not asserting a historical fact when he wrote of Jesus' existence, but rather "an expression of theological principles."

"When Don Righi spoke about Christ's humanity ... he was affirming that he needs to be considered as a man. What his name is, where he comes from or who his parents are is secondary," he said.

Fonza said he countered that there have long been questions of Christ's existence and that the matter warranted discussion in the court.

"When somebody states a wrong fact, abusing the ignorance of people, and gains from that, that is one of the gravest crimes," Cascioli told reporters.

Righi's brother, Luigi Righi, attended the hearing and said his brother was "serene but bitter."

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and every knee shall bow...

2/21/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

What shocked me most was that this suit wasn't taking place in the States!

2/21/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, they cant actually make that kind of a case in the States believe it or not. We have no such laws that would facilitate such a charge.

seth

2/22/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Just because we have no specific laws doesn't mean that someone couldn't make a case. Look at the thousands of cases in the system now where "separation of church and state" is used to argue a position. There is NO law, amendment, or even a constitutional phrase that uses these words anywhere in the US, yet that very phrase is quoted and used very effectively to deny Christians the same rights as others in the name of "religious (anti) freedom." Everyone from the average citizen to the Supreme Court have used that very phrase to change American history.

Pretty powerful stuff for something that isn't "law."

Beth

2/25/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

update on the case: (thrown out by judge but no one in the news ever reported it)

http://www.catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=43&art_id=31866

about the church and state thing:

"I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State." - 1st amendment, Jefferson

I am talking about a law that is set up in Italy where a Church or an organization cannot profit or gain from a made-up character. In the U.S. I can invent "the great fart-loving-beboxing-God", start a church, call it non-profit and get rich. not a soul could do a dang thing about it legally, everyone gives money by choice, and not a soul could do a thing about it. unless i cheated on my taxes. or gave the money to myself. Look at Scientology. Made up philosophy, applying for religious status, and is making tons of money, no law suit. etc.

Seth

2/25/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Nice "quote" by Jefferson. He was NOT quoting however the 1st Amendment. That imfamous phrase was written in a letter by him to a Baptist congregation in response to one he received from them in which he stated that he was worried about there ever being a "separation between church and state" in the legal sense. All the authors of the Constitution debated over the wording to be sure. The original intent of this amendment was to insure that no one Christian denomination would be granted authority over that of another. It was never the intent to exclude any religion. There were many Jews, muslims, hindus,etc. living in the US when the constitution was written and the thought that the nations' establishement would be based on anything OTHER than protestant Christianity was not only never contemplated, but seen aas completely absurd! In the first 150+ years of our nations' existance, there was NEVER a court decision involving the dreaded "separation of church and state" and the phrase was never used in the legal system. Too bad it seems to be the driving misuse of justice in today's courts and even sadder that most Americans are unaware that it isn't part of the constitution or our laws.

Glad the case was shot down, but don't think that it couldn't happen here.

Beth

2/25/2006  

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