.- A judge in the Italian town of Viterbo, near Rome, has ordered a priest to appear in court at the end of January and offer proof of the existence of Jesus Christ.
Luigi Cascioli, a retired farm worker and militant atheist, filed a lawsuit against Father Righi in which he accused the local priest of abusing “the credulity of the people” and because the priest denounced him in a parish bulletin for doubting the historical existence of Jesus.
Several days ago, Judge Gaetano Mautone set a court date for the end of January and issued Father Righi a summons. The judge had originally rejected the case but he was overruled by an appeals court, which ruled Cascioli had reasonable arguments to sustain his accusation that Father Righi had fallen into “abuse of the credulity of the people.”
Cascioli believes there is no historical proof that Jesus lived and died in Palestine during the first century despite the written records of the Gospels, which Christians accept as a matter of faith, and therefore, in his opinion, there is no basis for the existence of Christianity.
Last April Cascioli accused Father Righi of “abusing the credulity of the people” and of stealing another’s identity (for claiming to act in persona Christi), which under Italian law constitute misdemeanors.
Father Righi noted that there is ample historical evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth both in religious and secular texts and that, in any case, millions of persons have believed in Christ both as man and as Son of God throughout two thousand years. “If Cascioli doesn’t see the sun at midday, he can’t sue me just because I see it and he doesn’t,” the priest said.