A couple things about the Pope cancelling his visit to La Sapienza:
As you know, the Pope was scheduled to visit this famous Roman University. Some 67 profs/academics then said the Pope condoned the 1633 trial of Galileo. The Pope, the Church were anti-science, etc. Leftists and homosexuals then fanned the flames among students. Some of them took up the cause, even taking over the University rector’s office and promising a massive 1968 style protest. The Holy See cancelled the visit. Italian Interior Minister Amato begged Card. Bertone, Secretary of State, and the Pope not to cancel: the Italian government knew this would be a public relations nightmare. Remember the statement of the Holy See? Italy cannot provide the sort of security that the dignity the Holy Father is "is owed".
I must ask: Just how serious is Physics at La Sapienza? Just what level of scholar attacked the Pope about Galileo? What sort of rep does La Sapienza‘s faculty have, anyway?
But I digress.
The Pope’s speech.
Keep in mind what I have written before. The Church was effectively marginalized for decades in Italy because the Italian bishops were brow-beaten into letting the Christian Democrat (DC) party politicians filter the Catholic message to the Italian people. However, the DC has long since adopted a policy of compromise with Communists and Socialists, even since the time of De Gasperi and DC’s founding. The DC collapsed under its own mediocrity and corruption and the bishops were left in a void, no longer used to expressing anything important in the public square and with no strong leadership, even from the Holy See. Slowly but surely, the Church in Italy has recovered its voice. Church leaders have gotten involved in the public square. However, after decades of having no serious opposition, the Left is in a panic because the Italian Church is weighing in on assisted fertilization, civil unions for homosexuals, euthanasia, abortion, etc. The Left and the deviants (sexual and political, such as anarchists) are unhappy about this muscular Catholic Church which has reemerged. The reaction of the Left, the anarchists and the deviants has been violent, including death threats against Card. Bagnasco, president of the Bishops Conference.
It doesn’t take much to start an avalanche when tensions are high. This whole recent conflict started probably because some 50 or so people at La Sapienza were stupid.
To my mind Card. Bertone scores high marks in this debacle: he kept the Pope out of a circus, rather, a riot. While some at La Sapienza are now saying that they just wanted to be heard, blah blah blah, there were extremists involved who would have caused violent protests. There would have been endless TV footage of students with Che Guevara t-shits and cross-dressing deviant wieros carrying moronic signs and throwing things, Carabinieri and police in riot gear with shields, maybe a little tear gas. Some damn fool student would have been injured or killed, etc. etc. That’s simply what happens in Italian student protests. Remember the G8 meeting in Genoa?
Canceling the visit ultimately had to go well for the Holy See and very badly for the Left in Italy, including the present left-wing Italian government. This is, in fact, a public relations nightmare for the Italian state. Even many Italian leftists can’t stand what is going on and are attacking those responsible. Even the German and Spanish press are against the University and supporting the Pope’s right to have been well-received.
Universities far and wide are now tripping over their feet to invite the Pope. The press has shifted to the Pope’s side. The Italian people are in a vast majority favorable toward the Pope in this matter.
Now, out of the sun, zooms Camillo Card. Ruini, the Pope’s Vicar for Rome.
Some insider Holy See baseball: Card. Bertone and Card. Ruini are not said not to be completely friendly on all issues. Keep in mind that just last week Card. Bertone felt he had to backpeddle about the speech the Holy Father made when Rome’s Socialist mayor Veltroni paid a visit. His Holiness took Card. Ruini’s line about the problems in Rome, using some pretty hard language. Veltroni, who is leader of his party, and therefore important to the coalition controlling the Italian government right now, went away furious. Card. Bertone backpedaled. After that PR problem for the Holy See, Card. Ruini, Vicar of Rome, is now calling for all of Rome to turn out and be at St. Peter’s this Sunday for a massive rally in support of the Holy Father!
I am told that virtually every ecclesiastical institute in Rome has been sent faxes and e-mails from the Vicariate of Rome pretty much ordering everyone to be at St. Peter’s on Sunday.
This will be huge. What we are looking at is Family Day redivivus. Except this time the institutional Church is taking a leading role.
FLASHBACK: Remember years ago when John Paul II was booed in Nicaragua? The then Vicar of Rome Card. Poletti organized a similar day of "reparation" on the Sunday following JP II’s return.
This is almost like a revival of a Holy See v. Communism Cold War.
(How many of you know Don Camillo and his Communist mayor rival Peppone?)