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!

Progress toward our July expenses ($15,467 to go):
$35,000.00 $19,533.29
44% 56%
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.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

In other words, to be a Christian means this: 1 hours ago
Wanted: a balanced Catholic perspective on immigration 6 hours ago
Renewal with God before Us: Christ Determines All 22 hours ago
Sons of Dominic Prepare for Family Synod July 29
Dominican theologians assess proposals for divorced and remarried July 29

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
New management, new changes coming for reformed Vatican bank CWN - July 8
Sweeping reforms to Vatican's media, financial operations CWN - July 9
‘Even Genghis Khan didn’t do this’: Mosul emptied of Christians CWN - July 21