The Church’s Most Recent Attempt to Dispel the Galileo Myth

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  • Level: university

Fr. George V. Coyne, S. J., Director of the Vatican Observatory from 1978 to 2006, writes: “On October 31, 1992, John Paul II in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences said that one of the lessons of the Galileo affair is that we now have a more correct understanding of the authority that is proper to the Church and that: ‘From the Galileo case one can draw a lesson which applies to us today, in view of analogous situations which come forth today and which may come forth in the future.’ Just 350 years before, Pope Urban VIII had declared that Galileo had made himself guilty of an ‘opinion very false and very erroneous and which had given scandal to the whole Christian world.’ The contrast between these two official Church judgments on Galileo separated by a 350-year period is enormous. The question is: What does it bode for the next 350 years? So the import of this paper is not just academic; it attempts to present a judgment on the past and on the present with a view to the future.”

This essay can also be found in The Church And Galileo (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005).

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