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Posts Tagged ‘Defense’

Galileo

With “Catholic Bashing” seemingly back in vogue today, the true Catholic is called once again to stand up and defend his faith against ignorant and uninformed accusations.  Along with smearing the entire Church based on the heinous actions of a few “priests” (in reality, mostly actively homosexual men who should not have been ordained to the priesthood in the first place), we also see other bashing in the form of worn-out clichés and unfounded, but popular, myth.

One of these poplar myths portrays Galileo (1564-1642) as a lone crusader persecuted by a narrow-minded, superstitious Church.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you actually study Galileo in depth, you’ll find he comes across not as a humble, brilliant scientist, but instead as something of an impatient and conceited pompous ass.  Galileo demanded his theories, many of which were later proven incorrect, be unquestioningly accepted as fact.  The Church repeatedly offered Galileo an “out” by asking him to correctly label his theories as theories instead of fact.  Galileo consistently refused.

During Galileo’s time, Latin remained the language of science.  The educated at the time used Latin as a “universal” language since it allowed for exchange of ideas without limits of vernacular language barriers.  However, Galileo chose to write in the vernacular, often using bawdy prose, in an effort to “play to the people” instead of subjecting his work to the review and critique of fellow scientists.  When his friends and supporters, including many in the Church hierarchy up through Pope Urban VIII, begged him to tone down his style and simply state his theories were not fact, Galileo arrogantly replied: “”You cannot help it . . . that it was granted to me alone to discover all the new phenomena in the sky and nothing to anybody else.”  Not exactly the speech of a persecuted underdog.

Because of his attitude, many of his fellow scientists were hostile to Galileo and condemned his theories.  It was not the “enlightened reformers,” but the Roman Catholic Church that sponsored Galileo’s lectures and supported his honest endeavors.  In fact, Pope Urban VIII, Cardinal Bellarmine, and many other leaders of the Church publicly supported Galileo’s scientific work and many of them owned telescopes made by Galileo and conducted their own observations.

Galileo was placed on trial only once, in 1633.  During his trail, the Church treated him as a guest of honor in Rome, providing him a palatial apartment and a personal servant.  He was given a moderate sentence (the recitation once a week for three years of the penitential psalms, which he had already been doing anyway and voluntarily continued to do afterwards, a practice taking only fifteen minutes per week) for publishing as fact what he was told to publish as theory.  Galileo did not spend a single day in prison. Additionally, the Church never prohibited Galileo from continuing his work and studies, and never barred him from receiving visitors.  In fact after his trail, he lived for a time in apartments provided by the Archbishop of Siena.  Galileo died at the age of 78 in his own bed, with the plenary indulgence and blessing of the pope.

When held to the light of honest scrutiny, the truth always shines through.  Truth always triumphs over falsehoods.  Considering those before us laid down their lives in defense of the faith, is it so much to ask today for us to speak up in defense of our faith?  Either we truly believe the Catholic Church is the one, true, holy and apostolic Church worth publically defending; or the Church is merely one denomination among many, no better or worse than any other.  What do you believe?  Do you have the courage to defend the Church in which you profess faith?

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