Vatican Media Watch

Vatican Museums Plan Anniversary Exhibits

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, Feb. 14 — The Vatican is planning a series of exhibits, conferences and guided visits to a newly discovered necropolis to mark the 500th anniversary of the Vatican Museums, the newspaper reported.

The centerpiece of the celebrations is a show surrounding the 1506 discovery near the Colosseum of the Laocoon group — a marble statue dating from 30-40 B.C. of the Trojan priest who was killed along with his two sons by a sea serpent for having warned his people about the Trojan horse.

The other events planned for 2006 include the reopening of renovated parts of two museums — the Christian Museum and the Ethnological Missionary Museum. The Vatican will also open the newly restored Room of Mysteries in the Borgia Apartments of the Apostolic Palace, which are attributed to Pinturicchio. And a conference of major museum directors from around the world is scheduled for December on the role of museums in history and today.

Museum Director Francesco Buranelli said in outlining the anniversary plans, “True fragments of history have re-emerged intact from the oblivion of time and the earth.”

Pope Meets With Lebanon’s Prime Minister

ASIANEWS, Feb. 16 — Pope Benedict met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to discuss their shared commitment to working toward peace in the Middle East, AsiaNews reported.

According to the Holy See Press Office, in the meetings that Siniora, a Sunni Muslim, had with the Holy Father and the Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, “special consideration was given to the situation of Christians and to the contribution that they intend to give to the country’s progress along the lines set out, on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, by Pope John II, of venerable memory, in the Apostolic Exhortation, “A new hope for Lebanon.”

Siniora reported the results of his recent meeting with the leaders of the various religions (Muslims and Christians) present in Lebanon, from which emerged a unanimous condemnation against violence, the caricatures of Mohammed, attacks in the Christian quarter of Beirut and violence among various religious groups. 

“I want to be the prime minister of all Lebanese,” Siniora said, “and to weave a bond between all the country’s religions.”

Atheist Loses Lawsuit Against Priest

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 11 — An Italian judge has dismissed an atheist’s petition that a small-town priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed, Associated Press reported.

Luigi Cascioli, a 72-year-old retired agronomist, had accused Father Enrico Righi of violating two laws with the assertion, which he called a deceptive fable propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.

Cascioli filed a criminal complaint against Father Righi in 2002 after the priest wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus existed, was born to a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and that he lived in Nazareth. Father Righi, 76, said substantial historical evidence proves Jesus’ existence.

“The Rev. Righi is very satisfied and moved,” Father 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.”