Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday cancelled a speech at Rome's La Sapienza university in the face of protests led by scientists opposed to a high-profile visit by the head of the Catholic Church to a secular setting.
"Following the well-noted controversy of recent days ... it was considered appropriate to postpone the event," which had been set for Thursday, a Vatican communique said, in the first such cancellation in the face of hostility since the pope's election in April 2005.
Many scientists fault the intellectual, conservative and tradition-minded pope for a series of positions he has taken that they say subordinate science and reason to faith.
The protest against the visit was spearheaded by physicist Marcello Cini, a professor emeritus of La Sapienza, who wrote to rector Renato Guarini complaining of an "incredible violation" of the university's autonomy.
What is interesting is that When John Paul II visited in 1991, students heckled him as well—and he was a pro-evolution pope!
Secular Europe strikes again.