Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Vatican astronomer: Galileo case was not science vs. religion

Catholic World News - January 08, 2014

In a discussion of the notorious trial of Galileo, a public spokesman for the Vatican Observatory has observed that Church officials were not seeking to suppress science, but rather trying—in a mistaken way—to defend science.

In the 17th century, explained Brother Guy Consolmagno, science was regarded as a branch of philosophy. “When Pope Urban VIII criticized Galileo, it wasn’t from the point of view of being a Pope, but from the point of view of being a professional philosopher,” he said.

Galileo himself was a “devout Catholic,” whose two daughters were nuns, Brother Consolmagno said. “Even though in retrospect we can look back and realize what the Church asked was unreasonable, he did it.”

The Vatican astronomer concluded that it is simplistic to think that Galileo’s attitude toward science and religion reflected the thoughts of the 21st century. “He was a man of his times,” he said.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($27,707 to go):
$150,000.00 $122,292.96
18% 82%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jan. 09, 2014 2:25 PM ET USA

    The science of Galileo's time was inadequate to prove conclusively that the earth revolved around the sun and rotated about its own axis. It was not until 1729 that James Bradley used a large telescope to demonstrate the aberration of light. Based on this demonstration, in 1741 Benedict XIV granted the imprimatur to the first edition of "The Complete Works of Galileo." It was not until 1851 that Focault used a pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth about its axis.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle 2 hours ago
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed 3 hours ago
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? 7 hours ago
The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities December 17
Speaking Softly to Women Religious December 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17