“The Earth is firmly fixed; it shall not be moved.”
The bible verse shackled the minds of men for thousands of years, and held back the advance of science. It was this verse that was used as evidence against Galileo, who argued for the theory of Copernicus, that the earth is not immovable, but rotates around the sun. It was for teaching this that he was called to Rome in 1633, and tried for the crime of heresy. The aged Galileo, in his 70’s, was taken down into the dungeons of the church and shown the instruments of torture that were going to be used on him if he did not recant. Fearing the torture, and fearing that he might share the fate of Giordano Bruno, whom the church burned at the stake a generation earlier for the same crime, Galileo recanted the truth. He was confined to his home under house arrest, neither allowed to leave or to receive visitors, for the last seven years of his life.
It wasn’t until 1832 that Galileo’s work was removed from the list of banned books that Catholics were forbidden to read. 200 years after the trial… and well after Sir Isaac Newton established the truth of the theory!
Pope Pius IX wrote, in the 1864 Syllabus of Errors, that “Divine revelation is perfect and, therefore, it is not subject to continual and indefinite progress in order to correspond with the progress of human reason…. No man is free to embrace and profess that religion which he believes to be true, guided by the light of reason… The church has the power to define dogmatically the religion of the Catholic Church to be the only true religion…It is necessary even in the present day that the Catholic religion shall be held as the only religion of the state, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship… The civil liberty of every mode of worship, and full power given to all of openly and publically manifesting their opinions and their ideas conduce more easily to corrupt the morals and minds of the people… The Roman Pontiff cannot and ought not to reconcile himself or agree with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.”
In 1992, Pope John Paul II (reluctantly) formally apologized for the persucution of Galileo. I for one think that we should not let the church forget their crimes, lest they be repeated. If the Church still had the power of sword and firebrand, and the power to cross national borders at will, I believe that they would even now return to their policy of world conquest through threat, torture and murder.