Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/163

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151
NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

Catholics themselves. In 1870 a Roman Catholic clergyman in England, the Rev. Mr. Roberts, evidently thinking that the time had come to tell the truth, published a book entitled The Pontifical Decrees against the Earth's Movement. In this were exhibited the incontrovertible evidences that the papacy had committed itself and its infallibility fully against the movement of the earth. The Rev. Mr. Roberts showed from the original record that Pope Paul V, in 1616, had presided over the tribunal condemning the doctrine of the earth's movement, and ordering Galileo to give up the opinion. He showed that Pope Urban VIII, in 1633, pressed on, directed, and promulgated the final condemnation, making himself in all these ways responsible for it. And, finally, he showed that Pope Alexander VII, in 1664, by his bull,—Speculatores domus Israel,—attached to the Index, condemning "all books which affirm the motion of the earth," had absolutely pledged the papal infallibility against the earth's movement. He also confessed that under the rules laid down by the highest authorities in the Church, and especially by Sixtus V and Pius IX, there was no escape from this conclusion.

Various theologians attempted to evade the force of the argument. Some, like Dr. Ward and Bouix, took refuge in verbal niceties; some, like Dr. Jeremiah Murphy, comforted themselves with declamation. The only result was, that in 1885 came another edition of the Rev. Mr. Roberts's work, even more cogent than the first; and, besides this, an essay by that eminent Catholic, St. George Mivart, acknowledging the Rev. Mr. Roberts's position to be impregnable, and declaring virtually that the Almighty allowed Pope and Church to fall into complete error regarding the Copernican theory, in order to teach them that science lies outside their province, and that the true priesthood of scientific truth rests with scientific investigators alone.[1]

In spite, then, of all casuistry and special pleading, this sturdy honesty ended the controversy among Catholics themselves, so far as fair-minded men are concerned.


    ure," the answer may be found in the Roman Index of 1704, in which are noted for condemnation "Libri omnes docentes mobilitatem terra? et immobilitatem solis." For the way in which, when it was found convenient in argument, Church apologists insisted that it was "the Supreme Chief of the Church by a pontifical decree and not certain cardinals" who condemned Galileo and his doctrine, see Father Lecazre's letter to Gassendi, in Flammarion, Pluralité des Mondes, p. 427, and Urban VIII's own declarations as given by Martin. For the way in which, when necessary, Church apologists asserted the very contrary of this, declaring that "it was issued in a doctrinal decree of the Congregation of the Index, and not as the Holy Father's teaching," see Dublin Review, September, 1865.

  1. For this crushing answer, and by two eminent Roman Catholics, to the sophistries cited—an answer which does infinitely more credit to the older Church than all the perverted ingenuity used in concealing the truth or breaking the force of it see Roberts and St. George Mivart, as already cited.