The Italian Almanac

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Dead Jesus

Italian News - January 3

An Italian judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed. The case against Father Enrico Righi has been brought in the town of Viterbo, north of Rome, by Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist who once studied for the priesthood but later became a militant atheist. Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, began legal proceedings against Father Righi three years ago after the priest denounced Signor Cascioli in the parish newsletter for questioning Christ’s historical existence.

Yesterday Gaetano Mautone, a judge in Viterbo, set a preliminary hearing for the end of this month and ordered Father Righi to appear. The judge had earlier refused to take up the case, but was overruled last month by the Court of Appeal, which agreed that Signor Cascioli had a reasonable case for his accusation that Father Righi was “abusing popular credulity”.

Cascioli’s contention - echoed in numerous atheist books and internet sites - is that there was no reliable evidence that Jesus lived and died in 1st-century Palestine apart from the Gospel accounts, which Christians took on faith. There is therefore no basis for Christianity, he claims. Cascioli added that the Gospels themselves were full of inconsistencies and did not agree on the names of the 12 apostles. He said that he would withdraw his legal action if Father Righi came up with irrefutable proof of Christ’s existence by the end of the month.

The Vatican has so far declined to comment.