An Italian judge has dismissed an atheist's petition that a small-town priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed, both sides said on Friday.
* * *
Luigi Cascioli, a 72-year-old retired agronomist, had accused the Rev. Enrico Righi of violating two laws with the assertion, which he called a deceptive fable propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.
"The Rev. Righi is very satisfied and moved," Righi's attorney, Severo Bruno, said. "He is an old, small-town parish priest who never would have thought he'd be in the spotlight for something like this."
Cascioli, a former schoolmate of Righi's, said he had not expected the case to succeed in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Italy.
"This is not surprising but it doesn't mean it all ends here," he said, adding that he's considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
"This is an important case and it deserves to go ahead," he said.
Judge Gaetano Mautone said in his decision that prosecutors should investigate Cascioli for possible slander.
Unfortunately, none of the early stories have set forth the basis for the judge's decision. I look forward to reading more details on the judge's stated reasons for deciding as he did.
In the meantime, I know this doesn't end the controversy any more than the idea that a single Judge in Dover, PA can end the debate over the legitimacy of Intelligent Design. But I think it is okay to say that this is the correct result, and I hope this does serve as precedent for other judges to follow since it is a decision that is in accord with right reason and the historical evidence. (I especially like the idea of investigating Cascioli for slander. Given the level of his so-called scholarship as reflected on his website, such an investigation is entirely appropriate.)