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The Pope, the ‘La Sapienza’ Protests, and the Death of Irony

By Angelo Matera

Posted 1/18/08 at 2:48 PM

 

The sad irony of the recent protests at Rome’s La Sapienza University that kept Pope Benedict XVI from speaking there was that they were based entirely on a mistake. Not only was the source of the protests—a 1990 quote about Galileo lifted from a speech given by then Cardinal Ratzinger—taken out-of-context, the statement wasn’t even made by Ratzinger at all. The Cardinal was quoting someone else. And when you read the entire speech, it’s not only clear that the Cardinal didn’t say it, he disagreed with it. But the irony doesn’t end there. The words mistakenly attributed to the pope—supporting the Church against Galileo—were uttered by one of the most subversive and controversial post-modern thinkers of the late twentieth century, the deceased Austrian philosopher, Paul Feyerabend, a thinker the protestors should have recognized as one of their own, if they could only think straight. I explain further in this week’s National Catholic Register.