Science students and academics at the University of Rome La Sapienza have successfully stopped Pope Benedict XVI from visiting the campus today.
Vatican Radio accused them of censorship, while the Italian Prime Minister said their determination to block the Pope from speaking “provoked an unacceptable tension and a climate that does not honour the traditions of civilisation and tolerance in Italy.”
LGBT students also planned to protest the Papal visit.
On a website a group of students calling themselves the Physics Collective accused Benedict of “affirming anachronistic dogmas such as creationism, while attacking scientific free thought and promoting mandatory heterosexuality.”
Protesters had planned to mount loudspeakers on a truck and create a “sonic siege” if the Pope set foot on campus.
One of the 67 academics protesting the Pope’s presence denied they were trying to censor him.
“We just believe that his presence at the inauguration of La Sapienza’s academic year is incongruous,” Andrea Frova told La Repubblica.
“We are only expressing an opinion. As scientists, this affair has irritated us.
“Inviting the Pope to the inauguration of the academic year is like inviting a Martian. He has nothing to do with anything here.”
Last night another group of students attended the Pope’s general audience to show their support for him.