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Was Galileo persecuted?

Started by Geremia, June 10, 2016, 11:13:10 AM

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Geremia

Before Copernicus, Bishop Nicole Oresme (d. 1382) advanced the hypothesis that the earth, not the heavens, rotates diurnally. He was not condemned because he did not reinterpret Holy Scripture to support his scientific view.
Galileo was condemned because he ventured into Scriptural exegesis—in, e.g., his 1615 Letter to the Grand Duchess Madame Christina Lorraine—contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers of the Church and the Council of Trent. Copernicus did not do Scriptural exegesis regarding heliocentrism.
Galileo was condemned as "vehemently suspected of heresy" for holding "The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place[, which] is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture." (1633 Condemnation).
To say Galileo was persecuted seems to imply he adhered to a different religion than Catholicism. He was Catholic, hence the Church had jurisdiction over him in moral or religious matters. His house arrest was quite unusual; it was really a paid retirement, during which he wrote his most important physics work, The Two New Sciences (1638).
As the Tuscan ambassador Francesco Niccolini wrote on 27 February 1633 (p. 225 of Maurice A. Finocchiaro's The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History):
QuoteHis Holiness [Pope Urban VIII] answered that he had done Mr. Galilei a singular favor, not done to others, by allowing him to stay in this house [the Tuscan embassy] rather than at the Holy Office, and that this kind procedure had been used only because he is a dear employee of the Most Serene Patron [the Pope] and because of the regard due to His Highness [the Pope]; for a Knight of the House of Gonzaga, son of Ferdinando, had been not only placed in a litter and escorted to Rome under guard but was taken to the Castle and kept there for a long time til the end of the trial. I showed myself to be aware of the nature of the favor, and I humbly thanked His Holiness [the Pope];
and on 16 April 1633 (p. 250-51 of ibid.):
QuoteIndeed, there is no precedent of anyone ever having been interrogated during a trial without being detained in a prison cell, and in this regard he has profited from being employed by His Highness [Pope Urban VIII] and from being lodged at this house; nor is there knowledge of anyone else (whether bishop, prelate, or nobleman) who, immediately upon his arrival in Rome, has not been kept at the Castle or at the same palace of the Inquisition, subject to all rigor and strictness. Furthermore, they even allow his servant to wait on him, to sleep there, and, what is more, to come and go as he pleases, and they allow my own servants to bring him food to his room from here and to return to my house morning and evening.
This singular treatment can hardly be considered a persecution.
His house arrest began at the same Tuscan embassy on 24 June 1633. On 1 December 1633, the Pope allowed Galileo to return to his villa in Arcetri, near Florence, where he stayed for the rest of his life.