The communique reads: "In the wake of the widely-publicised events of the last few days relating to the Holy Father's visit to Rome's 'La Sapienza' University which, at the invitation of the rector, was to have taken place on Thursday, 17 January, it was considered opportune to postpone the event. The Holy Father will, nonetheless, send the text of the speech he had been due to pronounce".
The "events" to which the note refers include a petition to the rector signed by 67 professors asking for the invitation to Benedict XVI to be withdrawn, and protests by groups of students who yesterday occupied the rector's office to demand the right to demonstrate within the university campus on the day of the Pope's visit.
The signatories of the petition take exception to a talk given by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1990, and in particular to a phrase he used on that occasion to the effect that "in Galileo's time the Church remained much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself. The trial against Galileo was reasonable and just". The future Pope's remarks, a quote from a work by the philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, were made in the context of a talk on the crisis of confidence in science, in which he used the example of changing attitudes towards the case of Galileo. OP/PAPAL VISIT/LA SAPIENZAVIS 080116 (290)