Historical Jesus: Italian Trial Ends

An atheist who sued a small-town priest for saying that Jesus Christ existed has had his case thrown out of court. The judge said Luigi Cascioli should himself face charges for slandering Father Enrico Righi.

Mr Cascioli sued Father Righi in 2002 after the priest attacked him in print for casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Christian gospels.

The atheist contends that Christianity relies on purely anecdotal evidence.

Mr Cascioli, 76, was once a trainee priest, but drifted away from the Church and has spent much of his life as a committed atheist and anti-religion campaigner.

    ‘Satisfied and moved’

He brought his case under Italian laws that forbid conning the public.

He said he was now considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“This is not surprising, but it doesn’t mean it all ends here,” the AP news agency quoted him as saying.

A lawyer for Father Righi said he was pleased with the court’s decision.

“Father Righi is very satisfied and moved,” Severo Bruno said.

    ‘No proof of slander’

“He is an old, small-town parish priest who never would have thought he’d be in the spotlight for something like this.”

Mr Cascioli has written extensively on the subject, and his book, The Fable of Christ, provoked Father Righi, his former schoolmate, into a public critique in a church newsletter in 2002.

The priest countered that millions around the world had long believed in the evidence that appeared in the Gospels as well as thousands of other religious and secular writings.

But Mr Cascioli said his opponent would have a hard time trying to demonstrate that he had committed slander since this would mean proving that Jesus Christ existed.

“They don’t have any proof,” he said

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