Judge to Rule on Merit of Christ Case – Yahoo! News
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.
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.”