Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/407

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a proposition condemned by the Church. "If he refuses to obey," said the pontifical letter, "the Father Commissary, in the presence of a notary and witnesses, shall enjoin him absolutely to abstain from teaching that doctrine and that opinion, from upholding it or even speaking of it; in case he does not comply, he shall be cast into jail." Accordingly, on the 26th of February, 1616, Cardinal Bellarmin, in the presence of the commissary-general of the Holy Office and two witnesses, invited Galileo to renounce the two condemned propositions. After Bellarmin, the commissary-general again intimated to him, on behalf of the pope and the entire Congregation of the Holy Office, the formal order no longer to uphold, teach, and defend this opinion, whether by writing, by word of mouth, or in any manner whatsoever; if he failed to comply, he was to be prosecuted by the Holy Office. Galileo promised to obey.[1] On the 5th of March following, the Congregation of the Index condemned the work of Copernicus until it should be corrected.

From these authentic facts it results that a certain number of modern historians are deceived themselves, or would deceive us, when they insinuate that the Holy Office meant to condemn, not the system of Copernicus, but Galileo's theological interpretations of it. There was no question whatever about theological interpretations. In neither Copernicus's book, nor in the letters on the sun-spots, is there a word, a single phrase, in which the Holy Scriptures are interpreted. If here and there in his correspondence Galileo, out of respect to religion, endeavored to reconcile the data of science with the text of the Bible, he never published these explanations. It was not upon these private manuscript documents that he was tried, and the only document that furnished a basis for the charge was a printed work, purely scientific in character, and having nothing whatever to do with theology. By no manner of argumentation can the fact be negatived that a tribunal of theologians constituted itself a judge in a question of science, and decided it as an authority decides. The Holy Office did not forbid receiving and teaching the doctrine of Copernicus, on the ground that it was not yet demonstrated, as some of the apologists of the Holy See would have us believe; they would not permit it to be demonstrated; they pronounced it in advance to be "absurd, heretical, contrary to the text of the Scripture." Such is the whole truth about Galileo's first trial, and Domenico Berti sets it forth with much dialectic vigor.


Galileo once reduced to silence by the act of submission to which he had subscribed, the object of the Inquisition was attained. No

  1. In a work entitled "Galileo Galilei und die Römische Curie" (Stuttgart, 1876), Herr von Gebler disputes the authenticity of the document which states these facts. Berti makes a victorious reply to him.