Since the Galileo case is one of the historical  bludgeons that are used to beat on the Church–the  other two being the Crusades and the Spanish  Inquisition–it is important that Catholics understand  exactly what happened between the Church and that very  great scientist. A close look at the facts puts to rout  almost every aspect of the reigning Galileo legend.

The Victorian biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who had no  brief for Catholicism, once examined the case and  concluded that “the Church had the best of it.” The  most striking point about the whole affair is that  until Galileo forced the issue into the realm of  theology, the Church had been a willing ombudsman for  the new astronomy. It had encouraged the work of  Copernicus and sheltered Kepler against the  persecutions of Calvinists. Problems only arose when  the debate went beyond the mere question of celestial  mechanics. But here we need some historical background.


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