Chapel provokes unholy feeling

June 16, 2000

Academics at Rome's Tor Vergata University are in uproar over plans to build a Roman Catholic church in the centre of the campus.

A petition already signed by 130 out of 1,000 lecturers at the university has been addressed to the rector, the city authorities and Cardinal Ruini, vicar of Rome, asking that the church be placed in a less conspicuous position.

The petition reads: "The erection of a Catholic place of worship within the confines of a university of the state, which by its very nature should be non-religious and pluralistic, arouses serious reservations."

The decision to build a chapel was taken in 1992 when many academics anticipated that it would occupy a room within a larger building. Then, a few months ago, it emerged that a large piazza was to be built in the centre of the campus, dominated by the chapel, a building in its own right.

The controversy has exploded in the middle of the church's celebration of its millennium jubilee. The jubilee, with its large programme of events in and around Rome, is perceived by many Italians as a means by which the church is attempting to extend its presence into all areas of society. A typical example is World Gay Pride week, which the Vatican has strongly opposed on the grounds that it clashes with the jubilee.

Francesco Piva, professor of contemporary history at Tor Vergata, said: "It is also not clear why, in a nation in which Catholicism is no longer the religion of the state, as it was under Mussolini, and in which there are large numbers of atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Protestants and so on, the university could not have a non-denominational chapel."

Tor Vergata's rector, Alessandro Finazzi Agr, is in America and a pro rector refused to comment.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Globalisation

Times Higher Education World University Rankings data reveal the top 200 most outward-looking institutions

Common cactus finch (Geospiza scandens)

Tiffany Taylor on a thought-provoking view of the forces acting to ensure survival

Stressed businessman answering four telephones

Some surveys show faculty putting in at least 60 hours a week, but research casts doubt on whether this is a productive routine

Student asking question during class

University of Reading research finds link between undergraduate satisfaction and ethnicity of lecturers

Level of quality compass

Authors argue this means universities should spend less on senior academics and give promising younger scholars more of a chance