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Did the Catholic Church Ever Apologize to Galileo?

One could say, "Better late than never" about the Catholic Church and Galileo Galilei. In 1633, the famed Italian astronomer was forced by Catholic officials to recant his confirmation of Copernicus' theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo had originally incurred the Church's ire by refusing to side with then-prevailing Ptolemaic theory, which stated that the Sun and all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. In 1992, the Catholic Church officially closed its 13-year investigation into Galileo's trial and house arrest, confirming that Copernicus was correct, while Ptolemy and the Catholic Church were wrong.

But did the Catholic Church ever apologize to Galileo? Well, the Church did acknowledge that Galileo was correct in his theory and removed his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems from the Index, a list of publications banned by the Church. In 1984, after a preliminary report by religious historians and scientists was released, Pope John Paul II said the scientist was "imprudently opposed." For the conservative Catholic Church, that was fairly close to an apology. According to the 1984 investigating commission, the judges who tried the case in 1633 erred because they were unable to separate faith from an old scientific fallacy.

More about Galileo's life:

  • Galileo Galilei was a math professor, but he also observed nature, with lasting implications for the study of physics.
  • Galileo constructed the telescope that he used to support Copernicus' theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
  • Even under house arrest, Galileo continued to write. He wrote Two New Sciences about the strength of materials and the science of motion. It was published in Holland in 1638, not long before his death in 1642.
Amy Pollick
By Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at Historical Index. With experience in various roles and numerous articles under her belt, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers across various platforms on topics of all levels of complexity.
Discussion Comments
By Polymath1 — On Feb 11, 2018

Galileo was a mason/jesuit and was toeing the party line. He has no apology coming. Church was correct. Earth is flat and if you dare: check for yourself on you tube. I didn't know this until 03/15/15 so I was just as fooled as you are until I gave it a few days research. No dinosaurs, no satellites, no moon landing and no forests on Flat Earth.

By dimchild — On Jan 30, 2016

Investigating what for 13 years?

By anon994309 — On Jan 30, 2016

Yep. Some institutions are so gargantuan and rigid that it takes a very, very long time for them to change. Of course, this protects them from those negative changes like have happened in the Episcopal Church, but it makes them very slow to improve, especially where their essential doctrines are concerned.

By anon994303 — On Jan 30, 2016

Finally, Catholics killed Galileo-like they killed Jesus. God will never pardon them.

By anon994301 — On Jan 30, 2016

They took their time to admit their error!

Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at Historical Index...
Learn more
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