(15) Tue 3 Nov 92 0:13
By: Don Allen
Re: Vatican & Galileo
** Forwarded from Usenet **
Article 25597 of sci.physics:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (SCOTT I CHASE)
Subject: NEWS: Galileo Cleared of Heresy Charges by Vatican
Date: 1 Nov 1992 12:18 PST
Organization: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory - Berkeley, CA, USA
News-Software: VAX/VMS VNEWS 1.41
I have reposted the following item from sci.astro, because I want to make
sure that nobody misses it. The details are very enlightening. -Scott
Catholic Church Clears Galileo of Heresy Charges (Vatican City)
By William D. Montalbano
(c) 1992, Los Angeles Times 10/31
VATICAN CITY _ It's official: The Earth revolves around the sun,
even for the Vatican.
The Roman Catholic Church has admitted to erring these past 359
years in formally condemning Galileo Galilei for entertaining scientific
truths it long denounced as against-the-Scriptures heresy.
Pope John Paul II himself turned up Saturday for a meeting of
the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to help set the record straight on
behalf of the 17th-Century Italian mathematician, astronomer and physicist
who was the first man to use a telescope and who is remembered as one of
history's greatest scientists.
``The underlying problems of this case concern both the nature
of science and the message of faith,'' the pope noted. ``One day we may
find ourselves in a similar situation, which will require both sides to
have an informed awareness of the field and of the limits of their own
Thirteen years after he appointed it, a commission of historic,
scientific and theological inquiry brought the pope a ``not guilty''
finding for Galileo, who, at age 69 in 1633, was forced to repent by the
Roman Inquisition and spent the last eight years of his life under house
The commission found that Galileo's clerical judges acted in
good faith but rejected his theories because they were ``incapable of
dissociating faith from an age-old cosmology'' _ the biblical vision of the
Earth as the center of the universe. ``God fixed the Earth upon its
foundation, not to be moved forever,'' says one Bible verse contradicted by
Galileo's pioneering notion that the Earth spins daily on its axis and
makes an annual journey around the sun.
Unable to comprehend a non-literal reading of Scripture,
according to the commission, the judges feared that if Galileo's ideas were
taught, they would undermine Catholic tradition at a time when it was under
attack by Protestant reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin.
``This subjective error of judgment, so clear to us today, led
them to a disciplinary measure from which Galileo `had much to suffer.'
These mistakes must be frankly recognized, as you, Holy Father, have
requested,'' Cardinal Paul Poupard, the commission chairman, told the pope.
Tried on ``vehement suspicion of heresy,'' Galileo was forced to
swear that he ``abjured, cursed and detested'' the errors of his work,
which extended the findings of the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus
that the Earth moves. Legend insists that as he finished his abject,
life-saving confession of his errors to the black-cowled Inquisitors,
Galileo muttered under his breath: ``Nevertheless, it does move.''
The case was important to him, John Paul said Saturday, because
over the centuries it had become ``the symbol of the church's supposed
rejection of scientific progress, or of `dogmatic' obscurantism opposed to
the free search for truth.''
Galileo's condemnation, John Paul lamented, had led many
scientists to conclude that there was ``an incompatibility between the
spirit of science and its rules of research on the one hand, and the
Christian faith on the other.''
``A tragic mutual incomprehension has been interpreted as the
reflection of a fundamental opposition between science and faith. The
clarifications furnished by recent historical studies enable us to state
that this sad misunderstanding now belongs to the past,'' the pope said.
** End of article **