downloadGalieo after the Pontifical Commission


Tit_Galieo after the Pontifical Commission

Galieo after the Pontifical Commission 

Author: Mariano Artigas
Published in: Scripta Theologica, 32 (2000), pp. 877-896 (Updated and illustrated: January 2006).
Date of publication: 2000



  1. Criticism of the Commission and the final speeches

  2. Preliminary clarifications

  3. 10 November 1979: The manifestation of a wish

  4. May-July 1981: Establishment of the Commission

  5. The Commission's work

  6. Were there secret documents?

  7. Towards completion of the work

  8. How to conclude?

  1. 31 October 1992: The conclusion of the Commission's work

  2. evaluation final

  3. Notes

"There was only one trial of Galileo, and yet there seems to have been a thousand: the repression of science by religion, the defence of individualism against authority, the clash between the revolutionary and the established, the challenge of radically new discoveries against old beliefs, the battle of freedom of conscience and expression against intolerance. No other trial in the annals of ordinary or canonical justice has resonated throughout history with more meaning, more consequence, more conjecture and more lamentation".1
Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter (Madrid: discussion, 1999), p. 223.

Nearly 400 years later, the Galileo trial is still topic from discussion, which sample is a very complex matter.2. It is not difficult to understand why. At the time of the trial in 1633, Galileo had not yet published the work that made him the father of modern science (the Discourses on Two New Sciences, published in 1638). Hardly anyone, certainly not Galileo's judges, knew that a new science was being born. The trial was based on events in 1616 for which, except for Galileo, there were no witnesses. Doubts remain about important points, such as the 1616 document that was used as the basis for the 1633 trial, about Galileo's long and complex negotiation to get permission to publish his Dialogue, about his real intention in putting the Pope's favourite argument in the mouth of a ridiculous character, and about how the possible consequences of Copernicanism for Catholic doctrine were assessed in the 17th century. The list of problems could go on and on. These circumstances make the Galileo trial a real soap opera, impossible to summarise in four words.

The Galileo case has been widely used to argue that the Church is the enemy of scientific progress, and that science and religion are opposed and even irreconcilable realities. It is understandable that John Paul II, shortly after his election as Pope, set out to put an end to this unpleasantness status. In 1979 he expressed his wish that the case be thoroughly investigated to dispel any misunderstanding, in 1981 he set up a Commission to carry out this wish, and in 1992 he concluded the work of this Commission.

Did the Commission achieve the goal envisaged? If one considers the impact on public opinion, the answer would be rather positive. It seems that the Church has acknowledged the mistakes made with Galileo and in a way rehabilitated him (although "rehabilitation", as we shall see, would not be the right term, because that was not what was intended). However, in recent years some scholars have criticised the Commission's work . I intend to analyse the trajectory of the Commission in the light of the criticisms that have been levelled against it, and the status in which we find ourselves today. I will not dwell on the publications promoted by the Commission, which are reviewed elsewhere and are not the main subject of these criticisms.3. I will first of all present the criticisms and then go into a more in-depth analysis of the Commission's work . In discussing the Commission's work , I also include the background prior to its creation in 1981, as well as its solemn conclusion on 31 October 1992. status My main interest is to provide elements that allow us to assess the current state of the study of the Galileo case, especially in the aspects that affect the Church.

Criticism of the Commission and the final speeches

The criticisms that have been voiced relate in some cases to particular aspects of the Commission's work , sometimes they focus on the speeches made at the closing event in 1992, and in other cases they are a veritable amendment to the whole. Some come from authors hostile to the Church, others from Catholics who are dissatisfied with the development of the Commission's work, its conclusion, or both. My analysis focuses on the discussion of the arguments. At no time do I intend to criticise the authors I mention, who, in general, have devoted serious efforts to delving into the Galileo case.

In the introduction to his important monograph on the events of 1616, Massimo Bucciantini has stated that the documentation work on the sources, promoted by the Commission, is of great importance for the development of the Galilean programs of study today, but adds that the general interpretations are often weak and, in some cases, lack the serenity and objectivity that was desired, because they limit themselves to recognising the errors made, something that has been well known for a long time, or else they propose again old apologetic thesis of little or no value. He admits that the rehabilitation of Galileo by John Paul II on 31 October 1992, at the end of the ten years of work of the Commission, was "a politically important act", and believes that "it would be grotesque, to say the least, to demand today public and solemn acts of reparation in response to an abjuration ordered more than 350 years ago", but warns that the recognition of the errors committed with Galileo is a fact that has long been acquired and accepted within the Catholic culture.4.

For his part, Annibale Fantoli, author of a monograph on the Galileo case that is historically and documentarily accurate, B , has criticised in particular the two speeches given by Cardinal Poupard and Pope John Paul II at the conclusion of the Commission's work on 31 October 1992. According to Fantoli, "these two speeches, and especially the Pope's, were undoubtedly intended to offer the Catholic Church's final judgement on the Galilean question", but they contain historical inaccuracies and distort the position of the protagonists in the case, especially the criticism of Galileo and the defence of Bellarmine. Fantoli is particularly critical of the fact that the conclusion of the Commission's work did not include an acknowledgement of the responsibilities "at the apex", which, in the Galileo case, fell to the Congregations of the Holy official document and the Index, and to Popes Paul V and Urban VIII. He concludes that the cause of the myth created around Galileo, which John Paul II set out to undo, lies in the improper intervention of the Church authorities, and that this "myth" will persist as long as its cause is not acknowledged.5Nevertheless, he recognises that the Pope's speech is an official acknowledgement by the Catholic Church of the errors committed in 1616 and 1633, and that this is an important new development .6.

The reference letter to Cardinal Robert Bellarmine deserves special attention. In defence of Bellarmine it is sometimes said that his position was not only more reasonable, but more scientific than Galileo's own. Bellarmine advised Galileo to present Copernicanism as a hypothesis because he had no demonstrative proof of its truth. So did Osiander in his famous foreword to Copernicus' work, and so did Pope Urban VIII. At the beginning of the 20th century, the French physicist Pierre Duhem claimed that modern reflection on the scientific method sample proved that Osiander, Bellarmine and Urban VIII were right about Galileo. This is how he concluded one of his works: "In spite of Kepler and Galileo, we believe today, with Osiander and Bellarmine, that the hypotheses of Physics are only mathematical artifices destined to save phenomena; but, thanks to Kepler and Galileo, we demand that they save at the same time all the phenomena of the Universe"( ).7. Walter Brandmüller, who is closely connected with the Galilean Commission, has accepted Duhem's thesis and has proposed what could be called the "thesis of mutual error", which he expresses as follows: "All this leads to the paradoxical result that Galileo was wrong in the field of science and the ecclesiastics in theology, while the latter were right in the scientific fields and the astronomer in the exegesis".8.

Fantoli believes he sees an influence of these ideas in the speeches of 31 October 1992, and notes that the thesis of mutual error is very fragile, because it does not take into account that "neither Osiander, nor Bellarmine, nor Urban VIII had the slightest idea of what the experimental method was. This makes it all the more surprising that Duhem's judgement may have influenced - so it seems - the statements in the speeches of Cardinal Poupard and the Pope". It was not ignorance on the part of Bellarmine or Urban VIII, because "most of the theologians of the time had no awareness of the existence of a 'new science'. Still less were they aware of 'its methods', nor did they feel obliged to recognise the 'freedom of research' mentioned in the papal speech ."9.

Michael Segre has also focused his attention on the speeches of 31 October 1992. His main criticism is that what was at stake was the right to free thought, research and expression: the Pope should pronounce on the infringement of this right in the Galileo trial and, given that the Pope now repeats that Galileo was wrong, he still seems to think that the Church has the right to tell scientists what is true and what is false. Furthermore, he criticises the Pope's speech for diluting responsibilities because he did not make them concrete, doubts that heliocentrism did not really harm the Church, and wonders why the Commission did not succeed in fulfilling the wishes expressed by John Paul II at1979.10.

Antonio Beltrán's criticisms constitute an amendment to in its entirety.11. For example, when John Paul II states that "the clarifications provided by recent historical programs of study allow us to affirm that this painful misunderstanding belongs to the past", Beltrán comments: "The intellectual impudence contained in this comedy is of such magnitude that it almost manages to conceal its moral baseness. But it is clear that it was not aimed at the scholars of Galileo".12. In this vein, Beltrán's criticism extends to the entire history of ecclesiastical interventions in the Galileo case from the 17th century to the present day.

In the context of a biography of Galileo, James Reston has also criticised the work of the Commission as a whole, stating that the Church cannot solve the problem caused by the Galileo case.13. His position can be summed up in his own words: "In the summer of 1991 there was simply a desire to settle the matter. The Church had studied it calmly and wanted to put the matter, which was about to be buried alive for another four hundred years, to rest. The Church had come up against a question which, for all its wisdom, it could not solve: How should a divine institution confess its errors?"

In 1964, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's birth, Ernan McMullin organised at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA) a congress, focusing on Galileo as a scientist, which resulted in an important publication.14. In April 2002, Ernan McMullin organised another major congress, focusing this time on the Galileo case. Annibale Fantoli and Jesuit Father George Coyne, a former member of the Pontifical Commission, played a prominent part in the organisation. In the collective work that brings together papers submitted to congress and other additions, the last is a article in which Coyne criticises the speeches of Cardinal Poupard and John Paul II at the closing session of the Commission in 1992, attributing their inadequacies to the history of the Commission's work. From the outset Coyne stresses that his analysis is directed towards the future, asking whether the myth of Galileo will not be "an authentic case of a real and continuing contrast between an ecclesial structure of authority and the freedom to seek truth in any human business , in this case in the natural sciences ".15.

Coyne focuses his criticism of the speeches on four assessments that he judges inadequate: that Galileo failed to understand that Copernicanism was only a hypothesis and betrayed the method of science that he himself founded; that theologians failed to understand the Scriptures correctly; that Cardinal Bellarmine understood what was really at stake; and that, when evidence in favour of Copernicanism was produced, the Church was quick to accept it and admit that it had been wrong. Then, based on his knowledge of the archives and his participation in the Commission, he severely criticises various aspects of its workings.

On final, the main criticisms relate to the following points:

  • The root of the errors is "authoritarianism"; it is not recognised, and remains current;

  • The two speeches of 31 October 1992 contain inaccuracies;

  • Commission malfunctioning;

  • The error was in judging a scientific question; it is not recognised, and can be repeated;

  • The Church cannot admit mistakes;

  • Science-religion dialogue is impossible.

I am not going to assess these criticisms now. I shall now analyse the Commission's work and then set out my conclusions. It seems appropriate, however, to introduce some preliminary clarifications.

Preliminary clarifications 

A first point that should not be lost sight of is that it has not been all criticism, far from it. There have been many positive reactions and, as we have just seen, even the critics appreciate other aspects of the Commission's work and the final speeches.

What was Pope John Paul II's intention in encouraging a new study of the Galileo case? It seems clear that he intended to overcome prejudices that might prevent or limit dialogue and cooperation between science and religion. Some may have expected something more; for example, a public request for forgiveness, in a solemn way, as happened a few years later. On 12 March 2000, in a solemn act, John Paul II, together with a group of cardinals, celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica a "workshop of forgiveness". In the homily of the Holy Mass, the Pope referred to a document C shortly before by the International Theological Commission and Cardinal Ratzinger, graduate "report and reconciliation: the Church and the faults of the past". The Pope said:

"Recognising the errors of the past serves to awaken our consciences to the commitments of the present, opening to each one the path of conversion.... We ask forgiveness for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the use of violence in the service of truth which some have made, and for the attitudes of mistrust and hostility sometimes adopted towards the followers of other religions. We confess, a fortiori, our responsibilities as Christians for the evils of today. Faced with atheism, religious indifference, secularism, ethical relativism, violations of the right to life, disregard for poverty in many countries, we must ask ourselves what our responsibilities are ".16

The document of the International Theological Commission mentioned by the Pope is a long reflection which, in its 4th section, examines how history can be judged theologically, and in its 5th section examines various reasons for asking for forgiveness, among which is "The use of violence in the service of truth". It speaks of "the forms of violence exercised in the repression and correction of the errors".17.

Galileo was certainly not mentioned there. But something more was done: it was acknowledged and apologised for the use of violence on several occasions (not only in the Galileo case) in cases such as this subject, and it was stressed that in asking forgiveness for past wrongs, it is all the more necessary to ask for responsibility for present wrongs. The Church clearly stated its disapproval of the use of violence in the past and its desire to avoid the use of violence now and in the future, and it seems clear that these statements are sincere.

Nevertheless, some consider this to be insufficient and would like to see specific bodies and individuals held accountable. This was not done on 31 October 1992, at the conclusion of the Galilean Commission's work , nor on 12 March 2000 at the workshop of the pardon. It seems to me that this is the right course of action. To undertake trials against deceased persons does not seem advisable (the Inquisition is even reproached for having done so on some occasions), and it is unnecessary to draw lessons for the present and the future. Along these lines, as we shall see, from the outset it was ruled out that the Galilean Commission would undertake a review of the process or a rehabilitation of Galileo. The failure to spell out the responsibilities "at the apex" should therefore not be considered a failure. For the rest, it is well known which persons took the various decisions.

10 November 1979: The manifestation of a wish

On Saturday 10 November 1979, John Paul II surprised the academic community and public opinion with a speech in which he brought up, on his own initiative, the Galileo case. The occasion was a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which was celebrating the centenary of Albert Einstein's birth. The framework was particularly solemn: the Vatican's conference room Regia, in the presence of the members of the Academy, some 50 Cardinals, numerous bishops, and the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. The Pope listened to speeches by the President of the Academy, Carlos Chagas, and two illustrious members of the Academy: Paul Dirac, award Nobel Prize winner in 1933 and one of the most important physicists of the 20th century, and Victor Weisskopf, another illustrious physicist. The Pope then gave his address speech, the intention of which was very clear: to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of a fruitful partnership between science and religion. He referred to science as the search for truth and its legitimate autonomy, and quoted the following words of the Second Vatican Council:

"In this respect, it is to be deplored certain attitudes which, because they did not fully understand the meaning of the legitimate autonomy of science, sometimes occurred among Christians themselves; attitudes which, followed by bitter polemics, led many to establish a civil service examination between science and the faith".18

The Pope noted that this text, on grade at the bottom of the page, quotation the life of Galileo written by Monsignor Pio Paschini and edited by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and then went a step further:

"To go beyond the Council's position, I hope that theologians, scientists and historians, in a spirit of sincere partnership, will examine the Galileo case in greater depth and, while loyally acknowledging the errors, wherever they may come from, will remove the mistrust that this case still arouses in many minds in order to achieve a fruitful harmony between science and faith, the Church and the world. I give my full support to this task, which can honour the truth of faith and science, and open the door to future collaborations ".19

John Paul II pointed out that Galileo had to suffer a great deal from the men and bodies of the Church, that the conflict was harsh and painful, and that it has dragged on over the following centuries. But he commented on three points that seemed important to him in order to put the Galileo case in its true light, in which, he said, the concordances between religion and science are more numerous and important than the misunderstandings. First, Galileo explicitly affirmed that the truths of faith and science both come from God and cannot contradict each other. Galileo also acknowledged the divine illumination that acts upon the scientist in search of truth. Finally, Galileo formulated important epistemological norms to bring Holy Scripture and science together at agreement . John Paul II showed the parallel between these statements of Galileo and the teachings of the Church in our time, and concluded that these concordances help to create a favourable starting point for the honourable, honest and loyal solution of the Galileo case and of the old oppositions that this case involves.20.

For the time being, however, it remained a manifestation of a wish that was not linked to any other concrete action. The Pope's words did not refer to any further official action on the part of the Church. It was a question of relations between science and religion, and this could rather be interpreted as a task in which ecclesiastics could collaborate with scientists. There is no basis for thinking that, at the time, the Pope had anything else in mind. Instead, the aim he was proposing was very clear: to dispel misunderstandings that falsely pit science and religion against each other, with a view to a fruitful partnership in the future. The Pope also provided clues to a satisfactory approach to the problem: he dismissed the false idea that Galileo was fighting religion, and emphasised that Galileo was a Catholic convinced of the harmony between science and faith, and that he formulated basic principles to achieve this harmony.

May-July 1981: Establishment of the Commission 

subject The Pope's speech was received with great interest by the world's academic community , because it was the first time that such an intervention by the supreme ecclesiastical authority had taken place, and because the positive attitude towards science was an unexpected novelty for many. This interest was expressed in articles published around the world, as well as in letters sent to the Holy See. In order to respond to the expectations raised by speech , in February 1981 the Pope commissioned Father Enrico di Rovasenda, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, to present a proposal for the study of the Galilean question. On 11 March, Rovasenda submitted his proposal. On 1 May, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of State, informed Cardinal Gabriel-Marie Garrone of the approval of this project, which provided for the creation of four sections or study groups, and entrusted him with their coordination. The first meeting of the Commission took place on 9 October.21.

The four groups of work covered the main facets of the problem. The exegetical section was headed by Msgr. Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan and formerPresident of the Pontifical Biblical high school . The cultural section was headed by Msgr. Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical committee for Culture. Carlos Chagas, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Father George Coyne, Director of the Vatican Observatory. And from the section on historical and juridical questions, Msgr. Michele Maccarrone, President of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Sciences, and Father Edmond Lamalle (replaced, for health reasons, by Prof. Mario d'Addio, Full Professor of History at La Sapienza University in Rome). Rovasenda assisted Cardinal Garrone in coordinating the work.

All data indicate that the financial aid promised by the Pope was limited to moral support. The Commission had no means of its own, but only those that already existed. Its members were not relieved of other work, nor were they provided with special means to carry out their task, nor were they provided with dedicated assistants. The members of the Commission were certainly encouraged by the interest of the Supreme Pontiff, and they had that moral strength to apply for the financial aid of others. But there were never groups of work with an exclusive dedication to the objectives set. Logically, this factor conditioned to a large extent the development of work. The Galileo case is enormously complex, and examining it in depth requires serious dedication, time and resources (the bibliography is immense). It was probably thought, and rightly so, that the members of the Commission, given the positions they held, had the means to carry out their work. But they had to make the new task compatible with their usual occupations, and this, in the internship, could easily be an impediment to carrying out a thorough and demanding work .

At the risk of being wrong, I would venture to say that once again, Galileo-related issues, despite the best of intentions, were to take a back seat. This had already happened to Galileo himself, and was probably one of the reasons for his (and the Church's) disgrace. In 1624 Galileo went to Rome to explore the possibilities of publishing his Copernican ideas, once his great friend and admirer Maffeo Barberini had been elected Pope. Although the Pope received him six times, he did not find it very easy (contrary to what is often claimed) for his problem to be seriously studied. To find out what the pope thought about Copernicanism, he had to turn to Cardinal Zollern. On 15 May 1624 he wrote to his great friend Federico Cesi, telling him that he had twice spoken at length with Cardinal Zollern, who assured him (as he did) that he would sound out Pope Urban VIII's thinking when he came to see him in a few days' time. Galileo commented in a letter to his great friend Prince Frederick Cesi:

"But on final, the number of matters that are judged infinitely more important than these, absorb and annihilate attention to such matters".22.

In my opinion, the task entrusted to the Galilean Commission was an extraordinarily difficult one. It required the partnership of genuine experts in different areas, and it is not easy to bring experts together at agreement when such complex issues as those at stake in this case are at stake quotation . Even among Galileo experts there are serious disagreements that sometimes affect important issues. Reaching generally accepted conclusions would require partnership in a serious and difficult work . Moreover, various perspectives (historical, scientific, biblical, cultural, epistemological) are involved, as the creation of the four sections of the Commission makes clear; therefore, the partnership of specialists in Galileo, in physics, in Philosophy of science, in history of science, in theology, etc., would be necessary.

Undoubtedly, the members of the Commission were highly qualified people, and they asked for experts to visit partnership . In my opinion, however, the limitations of some of the results show that, in order to achieve the proposed objectives, a greater dedication of people and resources would have been desirable, and even essential.

This problem was compounded by another, no less serious one, which concerned the proposed objectives. In Cardinal Casaroli's letter to Cardinal Garrone of 1 May 1981, he defined the objectives and, it seems to me, it is easy to see the difficulties involved in achieving them. The goal of the groups of work was:

"to reflect again on the whole Galilean question, with full fidelity to the historically documented facts and in conformity with the doctrines and culture of that time, loyally recognising, in the climate of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the aforementioned speech of John Paul II, the mistakes and the reasons, wherever they may come from. It is not a revision of a process or a rehabilitation, but a serene reflection, objectively based, carried out in the current historical-cultural epoch ".23.

These objectives can perhaps be described as concrete or very precise, but it would also be a very precise goal to place a spacecraft outside our galaxy. Suffice it to point out a few difficulties that come up time and again when discussing the implications of the Galileo case, and whose solution is by no means simple, even today:

- In the instrumentalist sense, a "hypothesis" is only a resource useful for calculating or predicting phenomena, with no claim to be true. In the realist sense, it is a theory which, for the moment, we cannot prove, but we pretend that it reflects reality and hope that it can later be confirmed. When ecclesiastics told Galileo to limit himself to treating Copernicanism as a hypothesis, they used the term in an instrumentalist sense (Urban VIII), or at least in an ambiguous sense, a mixture of the two (Bellarmine). Galileo attributed a realist sense to Copernicanism. It is very difficult to assess in the present context the attitude of Bellarmine and Urban VIII, and what moved them not to admit at all (Urban VIII), or only very hardly (Bellarmine), that Copernicanism could have a realistic sense;

  • It is difficult to assess the undoubtedly important role played by the characters of some of the protagonists, especially Paul V, Urban VIII, and Galileo himself, as well as episodes such as that of Pope Urban VIII's favourite argument put into the mouth of the ridiculed Simplicius, and the apparent double-dealing of both Galileo and Niccolò Riccardi, the Master of the Sacred Palace in charge of authorising the publication of the Dialogue. The trial was triggered, in large part, by the anger of Urban VIII who felt ridiculed (seeing his favourite argument put into Simplicio's mouth), and deceived by Galileo and by Monsignor Giovanni Ciampoli, Galileo's great friend and close friend of the Pope's partner ;

  • It is very difficult to be certain about the value of the Holy official document document of 1616 on the injunction to Galileo not to defend Copernicanism, and that document was used as test almost alone in the 1633 trial;

  • The association of geocentrism with Catholic doctrine undoubtedly played an important role in the condemnation of Copernicanism in 1616 and of Galileo in 1633. However, it is very difficult to assess this dimension of the problem, because there are few explicit references to these issues. This constitutes an enormous difficulty in understanding the true meaning of the Galileo case and, in general, of the Copernican controversy;

  • It is not easy to understand why Galileo's proposal , supported by quotations from traditional authorities, was not heeded in interpreting in a less literal sense those passages of Scripture which seemed to refer to natural matters.

It would be interesting to know what verdict these problems would merit if experts on Galileo, of various tendencies, were brought together to discuss them seriously, using all the means and the desirable time. This is what the Commission could have been expected to do, but the truth is that it did not have the means to do so: the approach, as we have seen, was different. A clear disproportion between the desired goal and the means available seems to be a factor that conditioned the Commission's work from the outset. Although the result of the Commission's work was very valuable, it was conditioned from the outset by serious limitations. The uniqueness of topic probably made it difficult to be aware of these constraints and the risks they entailed. In the course of its work, the members of the Commission had to consider the above-mentioned problems, although it is not easy to know to what extent they realised their complexity. Thanks to their work, we are now in a better position. They were confronted with an extremely difficult problem.

In any case, one thing was very clear from the outset, when the Cardinal Secretary of State indicated in the letter of 1 May 1981: "it is not a question of a revision of a process or of rehabilitation, but of a serene, objectively based reflection, carried out in the present historical-cultural epoch". A "revision" of the process would mean re-examining it in order to correct it: this was excluded, and it was instead a question of rethinking the whole question and recognising errors, wherever they came from. A "rehabilitation" of Galileo would mean restoring to him the honour or the rights of which he had been deprived; this was partly impossible, and partly had already been done for a long time, also by the Popes.

The Commission's work 

Without a budget of time, money or dedication, morally encouraged but, on the internship, abandoned to circumstances, it is not surprising that the work of the Commission was very irregular. In the first three years (1981-1983), the Commission met 7 times, and the meeting of 22 November 1983 was the last: no more meetings were held. This does not mean that work ceased. It reflects the non-organic nature of the work:

"According to the testimony staff of Cardinal Poupard, it was clear from the first meeting that the Commission would give each of the four groups of work complete freedom. In fact, they did not all have the same rhythm of work, nor did they all have equally defined tasks. The plenary meetings of the Commission served only to coordinate the work and report on the progress made by each of the sub-commissions with great autonomy. Within each sub-commission, moreover, most of the work was carried out individually by each of its components, and only occasionally at group "....24.

That the Commission was abandoned to circumstances is more than a phrase. It was a reality that seriously conditioned the development of its work. Within a few years, three of its members left work for reasons of age (Father Rovasenda, retired in 1986, and Professor Chagas, retired in 1988: they were Chancellor and President, respectively, of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences), or illness (Cardinal Garrone, coordinator general). Monsignor Martini was very busy with his work as Archbishop of Milan and, since 1983, as Cardinal, which even prevented him from taking part in several of the meetings that were held. With these data it is understandable that from 1985 onwards, although work continued to be carried out, there was a lack of a united thrust, and a stagnation status was created.

Nor was it easy to develop a comprehensive work in all areas. In the Exegetical Section, for example, it might at first appear that a comprehensive work could be done, but after several years only a rather short work had been published on the status of biblical hermeneutics in the time of Galileo, and it was probably not clear what more could be done.

The early months of 1989 saw a turning point that would change the course of events and lead to the final stretch:

"In 1989, after the change in the Presidency and the Chancellery of the Academy of Sciences, contacts were resumed between some members of the Commission with the aim of unblocking the status. These contacts led to the appointment of Cardinal Poupard as coordinator of the Commission, replacing Cardinal Garrone, who was unable to attend due to illness, with a view to concluding the work of the itself".25.

In these circumstances, it was up to Cardinal Poupard to take stock of the Commission's work work and to steer it towards its conclusion. He contacted the members of the Commission at contact , and asked them for a assessment of the work and suggestions as to what remained to be done. On 13 July 1990, in the letter that Cardinal Poupard wrote to the Cardinal Secretary of State, he said that the Commission had reached the goal for which it had been created, and added a very important reflection in which he distinguished two different problems. One, the goal of the Commission, which he considered to be fulfilled, and a more difficult one which, taking into account cultural and ideological factors, was beyond the Commission's possibilities:

"In reality, it would be a matter of effectively and persuasively separating the historical problem as such from the other, which could be called eternal, philosophical-scientific-theological, and often ideological. Such a process requires maturation and time, beyond the effective possibilities of a Commission, whatever it may be. Cultural facts, rooted in history, cannot be changed by decree or by a Commission. Their historical evolution can only be helped by timely initiatives, as has undoubtedly been done by the work carried out at the initiative of the Commission set up by the Holy Father during this fruitful decade ".26.

Cardinal Poupard's reflection is very objective and realistic. sample clearly had no illusions about a radical change in the cultural world as a result of the Commission's work. In the background, one can see the enormous difficulty of the objectives initially proposed to the Commission, if one thinks of definitively dissipating the misgivings that the Galileo case still arouses in some people. Poupard led the Commission towards the end of its work with the clear awareness that the results achieved, although important, were limited and not enough for the ideal of definitively "turning the page" in the Galileo case, goal .

Cardinal Poupard suggested a formal conclusion of the work, and proposed that this should take place in the course of an audience of the Pope to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and to the Pontifical Council for Culture committee . In the end, the date for the closing session was set for October 31, 1992.27.

Were there secret documents? 

By scheduling a public session to close the proceedings, the intention was to avoid the impression that the authorities were blocking the work of the Commission, which was totally untrue. In fact, the Commission's requests for access to all the necessary archives were met without any difficulty.

The documents of the Galileo trial were not known until the 19th century. A first publication, which later turned out to be partial in all respects, took place around the middle of the century. In the following decades more complete editions were published, and in the national edition of Galileo's works (1890-1909), Antonio Favaro was able to include the complete dossier of the trial, having received the necessary permission from the Vatican. From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century, different interpretations based on the same data. The Commission's work had an extraordinarily important first effect: it showed that there was no record of unknown documents in the Vatican. Up until then, some people had still entertained the hypothesis of possible frauds, secret documents, etc. Now this matter seemed to have been definitively cleared up, and even if only this result had been produced, the creation of the Commission would have been worthwhile. Moreover, at several meetings of the Commission it was decided apply for that the archives of the Congregations of the Holy official document and of the Index of banned books should be opened to researchers; the Commission insisted on several occasions, and finally the archives were opened in 1998. This was another achievement that would also have justified the existence of the Commission on its own.

In fact, it is not strictly true that the Commission found that no further documents existed. I myself discovered in 1999, on the file of the Holy official document, a new document from the 17th century that could have some importance in relation to the Galileo case. It is related to another document discovered in the same file by the Italian historian Pietro Redondi, who published in 1983 a book graduate Galileo heretic28in which he proposed a new interpretation of the Galileo case. Redondi called his paper G3, because at the top of the paper, we do not know why, is written G3. I called my document EE 291, because it is on folio 291 of volume EE (there are other numberings, but for reasons not relevant here, I prefer 291).

The new interpretation of the Galileo case proposed by Redondi has not convinced many, but it contains interesting aspects and has gained new interest with the most recent finding of EE 291, which was discovered independently by three people around the same dates: by the Italian historian Ugo Baldini and collaborators, during their systematic work , made on official request, at the file del Santo official document of Rome29; by Thomas Cerbu, University of Georgia (Athens, USA)30; and by Mariano Artigas, University of Navarra (Pamplona, Spain), who has worked on this document at partnership with William Shea, Louis Pasteur University (Strasbourg, France) and Rafael Martinez, Pontificia Università della Santa Croce (Rome).31. The coincidence is not surprising, considering that the file of the Holy official document in Rome was opened for researchers in 1998. The triple finding sample that the freedom of research bears immediate fruit.

G3 was discovered because Redondi was following a report alluded to in a letter to Galileo written from Rome in 1625, at purpose of a complaint against Galileo to the Vatican. The archives of the Holy official document and the Index of Forbidden Books had always been inaccessible. Redondi asked there if there were any documents relating to his topic, and was told that there was one. He asked for permission to consult it, and it was granted, but he could only consult, in the thick volume in which it is bound, the three pages of document G3. It was a denunciation of Galileo's atomism, or rather, in relation to atomism and one of its consequences: Galileo denied that sensible qualities (smell, colour, taste, etc.) were real and reduced them to mere sensations that exist only in the subject who experiences them. He was accused that this doctrine rendered meaningless the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, according to which after the consecration there is no longer bread and wine, but the Body and Blood of Christ, while the appearances (the "species, in the Magisterium's terminology ; the "accidents", according to the scholastics) of the bread and wine remain. This problem provoked much discussion in the 17th century, since Galileo, and other scientists and philosophers, denied the reality of the sensible qualities. According to Redondi, this was the basic problem against Galileo, but his friend Pope Urban VIII succeeded in having him prosecuted "only" for affirming the motion of the Earth.

G3 remained ignored in the archives for several centuries, and not even Galileo specialists were aware of its existence. Shortly after file was opened to researchers in 1998, and working on G3 in 1999, Artigas discovered EE 291, which is a report a purpose of the denunciation contained in G3. Both documents are anonymous and undated, but Rafael Martínez has managed to prove beyond doubt that EE 291 was written by the Jesuit Melchior Inchofer, who worked for the Congregation of the Index. It was almost certainly written around the time of the Galileo trial. It is tempting to think that it formed part, together with G3, of the accusations that were probably presented to Pope Urban VIII against Galileo when he published his Dialogue in 1632, accusations that led to his trial and condemnation. This is another important point about which very little is known, although it is virtually certain that these accusations existed, and had a significant influence on the course of events development . In the end, G3's accusation was unsuccessful, no doubt because it was unsound.

Ugo Baldini has discovered several other documents related to Galileo, although none of them have the importance of EE 29132. All this sample that the suspicion that unknown documents might exist in the Vatican archives was not completely unfounded, even if it was not due to an attempt to hide any particular document. We now seem to be in a position to state that there are no other documents about Galileo in the archives of the Holy official document and the Index. It will not be superfluous to add that it cannot be excluded that other documents on Galileo exist elsewhere. However, and this is the most important point, the fundamental aspects of the Galileo case would not change even if we could learn about data which are now inaccessible to us, even about the intentions of the protagonists. Too much is known, and too well, for the essentials to change.

Towards completion of the work 

The Commission had made a work which was, in a way, only preliminary, but it did not seem to be able to do much more. In the Galileo case, everything remained as well known, and at the same time as completely mysterious and complicated, as before. It has already been pointed out that this was because there were important points that could not be decided. It was possible to propose reasonable conjectures, but was that the Commission's goal ? There was already a lot of conjecture, so what was to be gained by adding more? Moreover, the Commission had been stagnating for several years, and it could give the impression that it was being left to die for lack of interest, or even because there was a desire to hide something. It seemed desirable to get the Commission out of the impasse.

However, there remained one aspect which, in a certain sense, constituted the main goal of John Paul II in his speech of 1979 and after: the future.

One might ask: after Cardinal Poupard's approach to bring the Commission's work to an end, what was left of the initial objectives set for the Commission? Does the distinction between the two problems involved in the Galileo case not mean that, in reality, the underlying problems were not dealt with in greater depth by describing them as "eternal" and "often ideological"?

The simplest thing to do is to admit that the possibilities of that Commission, and of any other Commission that might be set up, were quite limited. It was possible to make the documents more accessible, to check that there were no surprises, to study the period and the context, to analyse the facts: it was possible to make progress, but along a line that, basically, was already fixed. No big surprises were to be expected at the end of the 20th century in the Galileo case. They could have been expected during the 19th century, until the trial documents were published, but not after that. The essential data were already established. Documents may appear that are of some interest, and may even eventually shed new light on some important aspect of the case: indeed, we have seen that this has happened. But the essential lines of historical fact are fixed and cannot be changed. The extensive information of the Tuscan ambassador is in the file of State in Florence, many letters from or to Galileo are in the Library Services National of Florence or in other collections, the volume of the trial is in the Vatican Secret file and, by now, has long since been examined using even chemical procedures. The volume contains the main decisions of the Roman Congregations and the Popes, all Galileo's statements at the trial, the reports of the censors of his book. All this very extensive documentation may contain some inaccuracies or doubtful elements, but it is essentially as reliable as any well-documented historical document can be. In these conditions, what could a Commission do, without entering into opinions and interpretations that would always be debatable?

The aforementioned letter of Cardinal Poupard sample explicitly admits that the conclusion of the Commission's work does not mean that all the discussions surrounding the Galileo case have been resolved. Does this mean that the Commission's initial goal was too high, and perhaps unattainable? This would not be strange, because this is what usually happens in the course of any work of research. The scope of the work usually narrows as the research progresses, and the results are often more modest than initially thought. But at the same time, they are more realistic and probably more interesting.

In fact, the impact of the Commission was not limited to works published until 1990. After that date, and partly thanks to the impetus given by the Pope and the Commission, important works of documentation and synthesis have been published. After 1990, the documents concerning the Settele case were published, which in a way meant giving the green light to Copernicanism by the Church in an official and definitive manner, .33and those concerning the vicissitudes of the Copernican books in relation to the Congregation of the Index of Banned Books .34The same is true of Annibale Fantoli's excellent book on the Galileo case as a whole, probably the best that has been written up to now .35.

Fantoli's book responds to the initial intention of John Paul II. The degree scroll itself sample: "Galileo for Copernicanism and for the Church". This is a very significant degree scroll . Galileo was both a Copernican and a Catholic, he fought so that the Church would not condemn Copernicanism, and his defeat was only momentary. To oppose Galileo to the Church makes no sense, because Galileo was Church, even if he suffered at the hands of some official Church bodies. Galileo was condemned by a Church tribunal, and in his condemnation in 1633 Pope Urban VIII played an important role, just as Pope Paul V had played, together with Cardinal Bellarmine, an important role in the condemnation of Copernicanism in 1616. Fantoli's book makes all this very clear, sticking with scrupulous rigour to the historical facts, and at the same time, with the same rigour, presents the figure of the Catholic Galileo who wishes to prevent the authorities of the Church from making a decision to be regretted later on. A good example of what John Paul II wanted. Fantoli's book was published in the collection of the programs of study Galileans, intended for publications promoted by the Commission, and can be considered one of the most mature fruits of the impulse promoted by the Commission.

How to conclude? 

As already noted, there was an additional reason for concluding the Commission's work. The Commission had been in operation for almost 10 years, and in recent years it had entered a phase of stagnation. It could be thought that the Church authorities were impeding the progress of the work because there was data which they did not wish to manifest to the public, or that a solemn retraction was being prepared which was certainly outside the plans of the Pope and the Commission. It seemed appropriate that the work of the Commission should be officially and publicly closed.

Once this approach was accepted, the only remaining problem was how to conclude the work of the Commission.

Over a number of years, the Commission had made a very valuable work and achieved appreciable results. Then came a period of stagnation. Now came the most difficult moment. The main difficulty lay in the decision to close the Commission's work with a pontifical speech . At first glance it might seem simple, it would be enough to say something on each of the three topics mentioned. The reality turned out to be more complex. When it came down to it, the speech pontifical dealt with difficult issues.

It is possible that the decision to close the Commission's work with a papal speech was motivated by the desire to hold an event that would have a public resonance. This was more than achieved, and public opinion worldwide reacted quite favourably. What counted more than the content of the speeches was the gesture. No one was left in any doubt that the Commission and the Pope recognised the errors of the Galileo case and proposed a positive partnership with science.

However, it would have been simpler to conclude otherwise. For example, the Pope could write a letter thanking the Commission for its work. But once the public and solemn act had been chosen, it seemed inevitable that speech should quickly draw up an overview of the problems addressed and the results achieved. This was an enormously difficult task because the Galileo case is very long and complex, and there are still important points open to discussion. To sketch in a few words a judgement on the Galileo case was a very risky task.

31 October 1992: The conclusion of the Commission's work 

Finally, on Saturday 31 October 1992, the solemn act officially concluding the Commission's work took place. The Vatican was dressed in its best clothes for the event. It took place in the conference room Regia (the same as the speech of 10 November 1979), which is like a gigantic atrium from entrance to the Sistine Chapel. It is accessed via the Escala Regia, a work by Bernini. It is called Regia because it was the conference room destined to welcome kings or their ambassadors. It was also the venue for particularly solemn events, such as canonisations or conclaves for the election of a new pope. It was built at the request of Pope Paul III (1534-1549), who belonged to the Roman nobility (the Farnese family). Hence the lilies found in the decoration of the coffered ceiling and frieze. Paul III entrusted Antonio da Sangallo with the remodelling of the area of the Vatican Palaces where the conference room Regia is located. The result, in the words of Vasari (author of some of the frescoes on the conference room), was "the most beautiful and richest conference room then existing in the world".

The decoration reflects important events in the papacy's relations with the temporal power. It took almost thirty years to build and decorate the conference room Regia before Pope Gregory XIII was finally able to inaugurate it on 21 May 1573. Galileo was then 9 years old. Many of the wonders we admire today in Rome were made during Galileo's lifetime, and are in some way related to his fortune. Galileo's imprint can be discovered in many places in Rome. Now, also on the conference room Regia, because the event of 31 October 1992 marked an important date in the history of the Galileo case.

The conference room Regia, the richest and most solemn conference room of Audiences in the Apostolic Palace, was chosen as framework for the solemn closing session of the Commission precisely because of its significance as a place of meeting between the Church and the peoples of the Earth. One might think that this was a subtle desperate attempt to reassert the supremacy of the spiritual over the temporal, but this was not John Paul II's intention. If the frescoes that served as a backdrop to the Galileo speeches represent the victory of the papacy over secular power, the speeches, in acknowledging before the representatives of the nations the errors committed by Galileo's judges, are an eloquent example of the exact opposite status .

The members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which was holding its plenary session that day, were present. Also present were the heads of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, as well as numerous ecclesiastical personalities, including the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. In short, a qualified representation from the ecclesiastical, scientific and political worlds.

The press all over the world covered the event, not only with reports but also with opinion articles commenting on its significance. The following day, Sunday 1 November 1992, the front page of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, highlighted the main news of the day with a big headline: "The painful misunderstanding about the allegedly constitutive civil service examination between science and faith is a thing of the past".36. The message was unequivocal. Eleven years earlier, the special commission had been set up to deal with the Galileo case. What Pope John Paul II expected from that Commission was to be able to proclaim to the four winds, definitively, what the Vatican newspaper had said that day. In any case, the subtitle of the newspaper read: "The tragic misunderstanding about the "Galileo case" teaches that theologians must keep themselves informed about the acquisitions of science".37. It was a warning to churchmen that the Galileo case should not be repeated.

The information in L'Osservatore Romano was extensive. The article on the front page, which included a photograph of the event, continued on pages 6, 7, 8 and 9, where there were more photographs, the full text of the Pope's speech in French and its Italian translation, and the speeches of Father George Coyne and Cardinal Paul Poupard.

The press reaction was quite positive, although there was no shortage of ironic comments. One French newspaper said that it was no longer sacrilege to claim that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Another said that it was scandalous that a Commission had employee thirteen years to conclude that Galileo was right.38.

After a speech by Father Coyne on behalf of the Academy of Sciences, Cardinal Poupard gave a speech speech in which he presented the work of the Commission to John Paul II. The Pope responded with another speech.

evaluation final 

As for the Commission's work , it does not seem that any reproach of negligence or lack of interest can be made, and it can be excluded that there was no subject of mysterious interests that would have impeded its functioning. In any case, one might think that the objectives proposed to the Commission were more difficult than initially thought. Wishful thinking led to expectations that, when push came to shove, proved to be over-optimistic. Although the Commission was always encouraged and facilitated work, it was not given the means it would certainly have needed, perhaps because it was not fully aware of the difficulty of the task entrusted to it, or of its importance, or both.

Despite the limitations of means, the Commission made a very appreciable work overall. It carried out checks and other important work in the archives, and contributed to the subsequent opening of the file of the Holy official document and the Index, making it possible for other documents related to Galileo to be found and for doubts about the existence of other documents to be dispelled. He promoted several publications of B historical and documentary value, and thanks to this impulse, other publications of great value have been produced later on.

Cardinal Poupard's letter of 13 July 1990, quoted above, sample clearly states that the Commission's work was not considered as an absolute end point. It would be more logical to consider it as a stage of documentary and historical research which has allowed new instructions to be established for the continuation of the programs of study complex Galileo case in its scientific, philosophical and theological dimensions, and everything seems to indicate that this idea was present in the minds of those who directed this work. evaluation A negative work of the Commission as a whole, or of the intentions behind the promotion of its work, would be a historical injustice.

The personal circumstances of the members of the Commission, as well as the difficulty of the task entrusted to them and the absence of the means provided to carry it out, were the cause of its work,after some initial years of great activity, then languished. The awareness of the difficulties in moving forward, and the conviction that it had already fulfilled the mission statement for which it was created, as well as the fear of the suspicions and false expectations that the status of stagnation could provoke, were the reasons that led to projecting the conclusion of its work.

A formal conclusion was chosen for this work and, along these lines, a solemn act was chosen with a speech by the Pope. A less solemn conclusion would have been possible, but solemnity was preferred, surely in the hope of achieving a broad echo in public opinion. This echo was more than achieved and, in general, has been positive. The Church authorities were rightly considered to have acknowledged the mistakes made and to have shown their willingness to collaborate positively with the scientific world.

In the final speeches, there were some debatable aspects. This was almost inevitable from the moment it was decided to have a solemn closure with two speeches, one to present the Commission's conclusions and the other, the Pope's, to thank and comment on them. The Commission made an extensive work but did not come to any conclusions as such, because no synthesis was ever made, which would have been very difficult. It seems that, in the final speeches, an attempt was made to make up for this shortcoming. Perhaps it was not realised that this option entailed significant risks, given the enormous complexity and difficulty of the problems involved, some of them unresolved. More specifically:

  • The distinction between the two levels of problems in the Galileo case could have been further emphasised: one, that of archival and historical documentation, on which the Commission focused, and the other of evaluation, which remained and will remain open. Perhaps the desire to show that the initial expectations had been met led to the final speeches being given a tone that could lead to the Commission's work being attributed a greater scope than it really had;

  • From the outset, it had been pointed out to the Commission that there was no question of revising the process or of rehabilitating Galileo, perhaps because both pretensions might seem ridiculous after such a long time, and because it excluded judging people who could not defend themselves and who, as a rule, acted in good faith, from agreement with the circumstances of the time. Perhaps an allusion in the final speeches would have been appropriate, to show that at no time was there any backtracking from the initial project ;

  • The way in which the Commission's work was presented and assessed in the final speeches could give the impression that these were carefully planned official position statements. This impression would not be entirely accurate, because at no point did they work with the Commission's conclusions, which never existed. Clarifying comments could easily have been included, and the more controversial aspects could also have been avoided;

  • Too little attention has been paid to the final paragraph of Cardinal Poupard's speech . It is placed at the end of his speech, written in italics in the printed versions, evidently intentionally, in such a way as to give the impression, which corresponds to reality, that it is like a brief summary of the message to be conveyed. This paragraph is a very objective and accurate summary of the evaluation that the Galileo case may deserve today, and sample, moreover, that the Church is capable of openly acknowledging errors. Specifically, it reads as follows:

"At that historical-cultural juncture, far removed from our own time, Galileo's judges, unable to dissociate faith and a millenary cosmology, believed, quite wrongly, that the adoption of the Copernican revolution, which was otherwise not definitively proven, was of such a nature as to violate Catholic tradition, and that it was their duty to prohibit it teaching. This subjective error of judgement, so clear to us today, led to a disciplinary measure for which Galileo "must have suffered greatly". It is necessary to recognise these mistakes loyally, as you, Holiness, have done order "39.

  • Both in their speeches and on other occasions, Church authorities have clearly acknowledged that mistakes were made with Galileo. The official statements do not descend to specific responsibilities, probably because they do not consider it necessary (it is obvious who were the persons and bodies involved), nor convenient (it would imply unnecessary and extemporaneous judgements on persons and intentions);

  • Some of the historical judgements contained in the final speeches are based on data which could have been more precise. Subsequently, under the impetus of Cardinal Poupard, manager of the Cultural Section, further work has been carried out, making available to researchers data rather complex, which was not previously available .40.

Can it be said that the main mistake in the Galileo case was an overly authoritarian action on the part of the Church authorities? Those who make this criticism seem to think that, without pointing the finger at specific persons and "denouncing" their authoritarian behaviour, one does not get to the heart of the problem, and does not avoid possible errors of the same nature subject in the present or in the future. However, Cardinal Poupard is probably right when, in his speech, he argues that the actors in the Galileo case are entitled to the benefit of good faith, if there is no evidence to the contrary: and, in fact, there is little evidence to suspect the existence of less twisted intentions. Surely the manner of the two Popes who intervened, as well as the envy of some experts who may have advised in 1632, may have played a role in the case; but it does not seem acceptable to attribute a decisive role to them. The character of Galileo, Riccardi and Ciampoli also played a role in the case. Even at the risk of repeating the idea, I think it is important to stress once again that the Galileo case is enormously long and complex. Attempting to reduce it to any particular factor alone, or to attach too much importance to authoritarianism, personalities or any other circumstance, would probably lead to simplifications that are not in keeping with historical reality.

Something similar can be said when the case is presented as the clash between the authoritarian structure of the Church and the freedom of research, or freedom in general. The existence of authority in the Church is something that accompanies its nature, and the clash with Galileo could have been avoided: it was not something that necessarily happened, but is full, on the contrary, of contingent factors. Nor is it true that, because the causes of the error are not recognised, we are still exposed to other such errors; it seems quite clear, for example, that the experience of the Galileo case was one of the factors that helped to avoid the condemnation of evolutionism (which would be the case most similar to Galileo's, being a theory of natural science). There has never been an official condemnation of evolutionism by the Roman authorities, despite the fact that circumstances sometimes pressed in that direction, and that there were beginnings of actions along those lines; and it does not seem risky to venture that the experience of the Galileo case has helped to avoid it.

The essential aspects of the Galileo case have long been fairly well known, even if gaps remain. In setting up the Pontifical Commission, John Paul II sought to clarify the mythification of this case, which is still present today, sometimes in a strikingly anti-historical way 41and to facilitate the partnership between science and religion, which is so necessary in our time. The above reflections, together with the data of file that have been published so far, allow us to conclude, it seems to me, that the limitations of this business are more than compensated by its achievements, which have made a positive contribution to the Galilean programs of study (also for the benefit of those who have criticised the work of the Commission), and to the better understanding between science and religion. To be sure, the Commission does not mean an absolute end, but no one intended it to be. It was an important step in the demystification of the case, which is nowadays increasingly viewed objectively.


(1) Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter (Madrid: discussion, 1999), p. 223.

(2) A first approximation containing the most indispensable data can be found in: M. Artigas, "What we should know about Galileo", Scripta Theologica, 32 (2000), pp. 877-896. And a detailed account, using the original sources, in: W. R. Shea - M. Artigas, Galileo en Roma. Crónica de 500 días (Madrid: meeting, 2003).

(3) See, for example, Melchor Sánchez de Toca, "Un doble aniversario: Melchor Sánchez de Toca, "Un doble aniversario: XX aniversario de la creación de la Comisión de Estudio del Caso Galileo y X de su clausura", Ecclesia, 16 (2002), pp. 141-168. In this work there is a exhibition on the creation and work of the Commission, based on the documents of the file of the committee Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC). I have taken from that article the data of file which I quote. In the quotations, APCC, QG, I, means that the document cited is to be found in the first box of the section dedicated to the Galilean Question (QG) in the file of the Pontifical committee for Culture (APCC).

(4) Massimo Bucciantini, Contro Galileo. Alle origini dell'affaire (Firenze: Olschki, 1995), pp. 13-18.

(5) Annibale Fantoli, "Galileo e la Chiesa cattolica. Considerazione critiche sulla 'chiusura' della questione galileiana", in: José Montesinos and Carlos Solís, editors, Largo campo di filosofare (La Orotava, Tenerife: Fundación Canaria Orotava de Historia de la Ciencia, 2001), pp. 733-750; published in English as issue 4.1 of the series Studi Galileiani: Galileo and the Catholic Church: A Critique of the "Closure" of the Galileo Commission's Work (Vatican City: Vatican Observatory Publications, 2002). Fantoli also discusses the "Galilean question", including references to the Commission, in the last part of his important book: Galileo per il Copernicanesimo e per la Chiesa, 2nd ed. (Città del Vaticano: Specola Vaticana, 1997), pp. 458-475, and, in greater detail, in the French edition of the same book: Galilée. Pour Copernic et pour l'Eglise (Città del Vaticano: Vatican Observatory Foundation, 2001), pp. 337-357. Also in the later book: Il caso Galileo. Dalla condanna alla "riabilitazione". Una questione chiusa? (Milano: Rizzoli, 2003), where he devotes a large part of the last chapter (pp. 236-254) to criticising the Commission.

(6) Fantoli, Galilée. Pour Copernic et pour l'Eglise, cit. pp. 356-357.

(7) Pierre Duhem, Sozein ta fainomena. Essai sur la notion de théorie physique de Platon à Galilée (Paris: Vrin, 1990), p. 140 (the original is from 1908).

(8) Walter Brandmüller, Galileo y la Iglesia (Madrid: Rialp, 1987), pp. 177-178 (the original is from 1982).

(9) Fantoli, "Galileo e la Chiesa cattolica", cit. pp. 746-747.

(10) Michael Segre, "Light on the Galileo Case?", Isis, 88 (1997), pp. 484-504.

(11) Antonio Beltrán, Galileo, ciencia y religión (Barcelona: Paidós, 2001), pp. 203-248.

(12) Antonio Beltrán, "Introduction" to: Galileo Galilei, Diálogo sobre los dos máximos sistemas del mundo (Madrid: Alianza, 1995), p. LXXII.

(13) James Reston, Galileo. El genio y el hombre (Barcelona: Ediciones B, 1996), pp. 193-198 and 383-387.

(14) Ernan McMullin (publisher), Galileo: Man of Science (New York: Basic Books, 1967).

(15) George Coyne, "The Church's Most Recent Attempt to Dispel the Galileo Myth", in: Ernan McMullin (publisher), The Church and Galileo (Notre Dame, In.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), pp. 340-341.

(16) John Paul II, Homily, workshop del perdón, 12 March 2000, nn. 3 and 4: in workshop del perdón (Madrid: Palabra, 2000), p. 16.

(17) International Theological Commission, report and reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past, 7 March 2000, section 5.3: in Forgiveness Day, cit. p. 117.

(18) Vatican Council II, constitution Gaudium et Spes, no. 36.

(19) certificate Apostolicae Saedis, 71 (1979), pp. 1464-1465.

(20) Ibid., pp. 1465-1466.

(21) Cfr. Double anniversary, pp. 147-148. The assassination attempt on the Pope took place on 13 May 1981, which, as can be seen from the dates, hardly delayed the creation of the Commission.

(22) Letter from Galileo to Federico Cesi, 15 May 1624, in: Galileo Galilei, Opere, ed. Nazionale a cura di A. Favaro (Barbèra: Firenze, 1890-1909), vol. XIII, no. 1633.

(23) Letter of Cardinal Casaroli to Cardinal Garrone, 1 May 1981: file APCC, QG, I. Quoted by: Sánchez de Toca, o.c., p. 146.

(24) Sánchez de Toca, o.c., pp. 147-148.

(25) Ibid., p. 157.

(26) Letter from Cardinal Poupard to the Cardinal Secretary of State, 13 July 1990: APCC, QC, 1. Cited by Sánchez de Toca, o.c., p. 158.

(27) Cfr. Sánchez de Toca, o.c., pp. 158-159.

(28) Pietro Redondi, Galileo Eretico (Torino: Einaudi, 1983).

(29) Ugo Baldini and Leen Spruit, 'Nuovi documenti galileiani degli Archivi del Sant'Ufficio e dell'Indice', Rivista di storia della filosofia, 56 (2001), pp. 661-699.

(30) Thomas Cerbu, "Melchior Inchofer, 'un homme fin & rusé'", in: José Montesinos and Carlos Solís, editors, Largo campo di filosofare, cit. pp. 587-611.

(31) Mariano Artigas, "Un nuovo documento sul caso Galileo: EE 291", certificate Philosophica, 10 (2001), pp. 199-214; Rafael Martínez, "Il Manoscrito ACDF, Index, Protocolli, vol. EE, f. 291 r -v ", ibid., pp. 215-242; Lucas F. Mateo-Seco, "Galileo e l'Eucaristia. La questione teologica dell'ACDF, Index, Protocolli, EE, f. 291 r -v ", ibid., pp. 243-256; William R. Shea, "Galileo e l'atomismo", ibid., pp. 257-272; Mariano Artigas, Rafael Martínez and William R. Shea, "Nueva luz en el caso Galileo", yearbook de Historia de la Iglesia , 12 (2003), pp. 159-179. After the publication of these articles, Shea has been called to occupy the Chair Galileo at the University of Padua.

(32) They can be found in the aforementioned article by Baldini and Spruit "Nuovi documenti galileiani degli Archivi del Sant'Ufficio e dell'Indice".

(33) Walter Brandmüller and Johannes Grepl, Copernicus, Galilei e la Chiesa: fine della controversia (1820), gli atti del Sant'Uffizio (Firenze: Olschki, 1992).

(34) Pierre-Noël Mayaud, La condamnation des livres coperniciens et sa révocation à la lumière des documents inédits des Congregations de l'Index et de l'Inquisition (Rome: Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1997).

(35) Annibale Fantoli, Galileo per il Copernicanesimo e per la Chiesa, cit.

(36) L'Osservatore Romano, 1 November 1992, page 1.

(37) Ibid .

(38) For an annotated summary of the press reactions, see: Michael Paul Gallagher, "Note in margine al caso Galileo",La Civiltà Cattolica, 144 (1993), pp. 424-436.

(39) P. Poupard, "Compte rendu des travaux de la commission pontificale d'études de la controverse ptoléméo-copernicienne aux XVIe -XVIIe siècles", speech of 31 October 1992, in: P. Poupard (publisher), Après Galilée. Science et foi: nouveau dialogue (Paris: Desclée de Brower, 1994), p. 96.

(40) See the work already cited: Pierre-Noël Mayaud, La condamnation des livres coperniciens et sa révocation à la lumière des documents inédits des Congregations de l'Index et de l'Inquisition.

(41) For example, Bertolt Brecht's Life of Galileo continues to be successfully performed. Apart from its artistic and emotional merits, from a historical point of view it contains very serious distortions; it is a clear exponent of the vitality enjoyed by the Galilean myth and contributes to maintaining it.