Miracle on Via Sacra? Atheist's publicity stunt succeeds
Luigi Cascioli wrote a book called The Fable of Christ (apparently self-published) which says Jesus didn't exist. Enrico Righi, a priest near Rome, wrote an article in the diocesan newspaper criticizing the claim. So Cascioli did something almost American: He sued.
Or, more accurately, Cascioli filed criminal charges against Righi, saying that he's breaking two Italian laws. The first, "abuse of popular belief/credulity," is an anti-fraud law. The second is "substitution of identity" Cascioli charges that "the church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala," an anti-Roman Jew in the first century.
"I started this lawsuit [in 2002] because I wanted to deal the final blow against the church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.
Judge Gaetano Mautone "had earlier refused to take up the case, but was overruled last month by the Court of Appeal, which agreed that Signor Cascioli had a reasonable case for his accusation," The Times of London reported yesterday. So on Monday, Mautone set a preliminary hearing for the end of this month, and ordered Righi to appear, essentially to prove that Jesus actually existed.
"Cascioli says he didn't exist. And I said that he did," Righi told Reuters. "The judge will have to decide if Christ exists or not."
The priest told The Times that he doesn't anticipate a problem, as the evidence for Jesus' existence is overwhelming.
"If Cascioli does not see the sun in the sky at midday, he cannot sue me because I see it and he does not," he said. Well, apparently Cascioli can sue. But he's unlikely to win. Even Cascioli agrees with that. "It would take a miracle," he said.
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