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stood, then, that the Catholic holds the Church to be infallible only by virtue of the supernatural protection and guidance of its invisible Head, according to his promise. But this promise was made to the Church, the whole Church, — not to any particular portion of the Church, nor to any given number of individuals in the Church. Consequently, the Catholic regards no act of the Church, even of the highest dignitaries of the Church, as infallible, unless the act of the whole Church. There are only two ways in which the Church is assumed to act as the whole Church, - that is, in a universal council, or, what is the same thing, the unanimous, or the morally unanimous, assent of all the bishops or pastors of the Church, and through the Pope, deciding ex cathedra, as the representative of the Church ; and a man may be a Catholic, without believing that the decision of the Pope, unless assented to by the body of the bishops, is to be regarded as infallible. But we, for ourselves, hold the decision of the Pope, when he represents, or decides for, the Church Universal, to be infallible.
Now, the Pope acts in three separate capacities, -as temporal prince, as bishop of the particular Church of Rome, head of the Church Universal. If he was regarded as infallible as a man, if infallibility was regarded as inhering in him as a personal attribute, he would be held, inasmuch as he is one and the same man in whichever capacity he acts, equally infallible in all three of these capacities, as Protestants commonly suppose Catholics do hold. But Catholics do not hold the Pope to be infallible as a man; as a man, or when acting in any case in which he has not the express promise of Christ to protect him from error and to guide him to the truth, they believe him just as liable to err, after becoming Pope, as he was before. The promise of Christ, which is the pledge of infallibility, is made, as we have said, only to the Church Universal, and therefore to the Pope only when representing, and only in so far as he represents, the Universal Church. But the Pope, as temporal prince, as the civil ruler of the ecclesiastical states, or as the bishop of the See of Rome, does not represent the Universal Church, and therefore in these capacities has no promise of inerrancy.
These distinctions made, it will be proper and necessary to ask, when any particular act assumed to be reprehensible is alleged to have been done by the Catholic Church, and therefore by infallible authority, Has it been done or sanctioned by a universal council, or the great body of bishops ? or has it been done or sanctioned by the Pope, deciding ex cathedra, as the representative of the Church Universal? If not, it has been done, has been sanctioned, by no authority held by a Catholic to be infallible; and, if bad, it must, as in all other cases, be charged to human fallibility or depravity.
Now, the reviewer alleges, or virtually alleges, that the heliocentric theory has been condemned as a heresy by an authority which Catholics hold to be infallible; for this is the real purport of his allegation. But this we deny. First, because it is not the principle of the Church to pronounce dogmatically on questions of pure science; and second, because no instance ever has been or can be adduced of her having so pronounced. The Catholic recognizes no authority but that of the Universal Church, expressed in one or the other of the two ways we have specified, as competent to declare what is or is not a heresy, or to declare an article of faith, on any question whatever; and there is no purely scientific question on which this authority, in either of the ways specified, has ever spoken. Individuals in the Church, eminent doctors and high dignitaries, may have spoken, some condemning one doctrine, and some another ; but never any authority believed by any Catholic to be infallible, or which, according to the principles of his Church, he is required to believe infallible. And furthermore, the theory in question has never been condemned at all as a heresy.
We turn now to the direct consideration of the two cases alleged by the reviewer. The case of Virgil, Bishop of Salzburg, we dismiss, as not authenticated. The extract said to be from a Papal bull bears on its face unequivocal evidence of being supposititious. It is not the style in which the Pope is accustomed to speak, when declaring the decision of the Church Universal. We are not acquainted with the particulars of the case, but it appears that Virgil did speak of there being inhabitants on the opposite side of the earth, and that this gave offence to some bigoted churchmen, who made an application to Pope Zachary to condemn him; “ but it does not, however, appear,” says Mr. Whewell, in his History of the Inductive Sciences, (Vol. II. p. 256, London, 1839,) that this led to any severity ; and the story of the deposition from his bishopric, which is circulated by Kepler and some more modern writers, is undoubtedly altogether false.” This is good Protestant authority, and all that it is necessary to adduce in the case of the Bishop of Salzburg.
But the case of Galileo is in point ; and, surely, you are not about to deny that. Surely, you will not pretend to deny that Galileo was imprisoned in the dungeons of the Inquisition for upon the
teaching that the earth turns on its axis, and moves round the sun, - that his doctrine was pronounced by the Church of Rome to be a heresy, and that he himself was forced to retract it, and that the venerable old philosopher, rising from the posture in which he had made his abjuration, stamped his foot ground, and exclaimed, “Nevertheless, it does move.' The story is so well told, has been so often repeated, and has proved so serviceable to numerous pretenders, wishing to palm off their stupid dreams for some new discovery in the science of man or nature, especially to our phrenologists, neurologists, and Fourierists, that, we own, it seems almost a pity to spoil it by contradicting it ; yet it is false, totally false from beginning to end, with not one word of truth in it. We make this assertion on indubitable authority.
The heliocentric theory was publicly taught in Rome by the great Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus, who was born in 1401, and died in 1464, just one hundred years before the birth of Galileo ; it was taught in the same city, in public lectures, by Copernicus, a Catholic priest, educated at Bologna, in Italy, and professor of astronomy at Rome, in 1500; and Leonardo da Vinci, in 1510, “ connects the theory of the fall of bodies with the earth's motion, as a thing then generally received." Cusanus was never disturbed for asserting the earth moves,
the sun is at rest,” but was created Cardinal by Nicholas the Fifth, who conferred on him the bishopric of Brixen; and he enjoyed the favor and confidence of four successive pontiffs, till the day of his death. Copernicus was invited by the Pope to assist in reforming the calendar, which he did ; and, on his retiring from his professorship, the dignitaries of the Church charged themselves with providing for him a safe and honorable retreat, where, above the wants and distractions of life, he might devote the undivided energies of his great mind to the reconstruction of the whole fabric of astronomy. When it is known at Rome that his system is prepared, Cardinal Scomberg writes to him, urging him to publish it, and generously offers to advance from his private purse the necessary funds. The Cardinal unhappily dying before the publication, another dignitary of the Church, Gisio, Bishop of Ermeland, steps forward to replace him; and when the work is brought to light, it is dedicated to Pope Paul the Third, with the Pope's approbation. Thus did Rome originate, foster, and mature this heretical theory, and thus did she treat its advocates for more than eighty years before Galileo. If it was a heresy, why was it so long tolerated ? If Rome was opposed to science, why did she protect and honor its cultivators? And how happens it, that in the case of Galileo alone, who broached no novelty, who brought out no new theory, she suddenly became a persecutor ? The fairer presumption would be, that Galileo, if condemned at all, was condemned for something extraneous to his simple promulgation of the heliocentric theory, so formally taught, eighty years, nay, a hundred years, before, by Copernicus, in Rome herself.
But Galileo was not condemned for teaching this theory, nor was the theory itself condemned, nor was Galileo ever imprisoned, or required to retract his doctrine. What, then, are the real facts in the case ? It appears,
that Galileo, by the manner in which he proclaimed his theory, his intemperance in advocating it, and his attempt to reconcile it with the Scriptures, created him many enemies, who sought, in 1615, to get him cited before the Inquisition, but without effect. No censure was passed upon him or his doctrine ; he was simply required to speak as a mathematician, to confine himself to his discoveries and his scientific proofs, without meddling with the Scriptural question. But with this Galileo was not satisfied. He insisted on two things, — first, that his doctrine was demonstrated, and second, that it was supported by Scripture ; and he came of his own accord to Rome, in 1616, to obtain a decision of these two points in his favor. There was no charge against him, he was not cited to appear, but he came of his own accord, because he wished to obtain the sanction of Rome to his theories. The court of Rome was unwilling to interfere ; but, at length, yielding to the importunities of Galileo and his friends, the Pope finally referred the question to the Inquisition, who decided the two points against Galileo; that is, they decided that the doctrine was not demonstrated and not supported by Scripture, — for these were the simple points before them, and enjoined it upon Galileo not to teach it henceforth as a theory demonstrated, and to observe silence as to the Scriptural question. This would still have left him free to teach it as an hypothesis, and to have adduced every mathematical proof in its favor in his power. But Galileo was not content with this, which left him full liberty as a scientific man, and he was therefore forbidden to teach the doctrine at all. This, as nearly as we can seize it, is the purport of the decision of the Inquisition in 1616. But there was in this no positive condemnation of the doctrine, and no retraction of it required. Galileo was still honored at Rome; and when his friend, Cardinal Bambarini, became Pope Urban the Eighth, he came to Rome again, was received with the highest honors, and the Pope bestowed a pension on him and his son.
For seventeen years after this decision in 1616, Galileo continued his mathematical pursuits, undisturbed, with the greatest success, receiving everywhere honor and applause, and nowhere more than at Rome. Cardinal Bambarini, who dissented from the decision of the Inquisition, became Pope Urban the Eighth. He was the friend of Galileo, and not opposed to the heliocentric theory. Galileo's friends under this Pope were everywhere encouraged and promoted, and it seemed that one needed only to advocate his doctrine to be sure of the Pope's favor. Galileo was elated, and published his Dialogues, in which he brings out the theory, contrary to the obligation he had taken, and in a manner the most intemperate, and the most satirical and contemptuous to authority. He was accordingly cited in 1633 to appear at Rome, and was condemned, - the question turning on his contempt for authority, and not at all on the truth or falsity of his doctrine. What punishment was imposed upon him we do not know. But he was not imprisoned. While at Rome, he resided in the palace of his friend, the Tuscan ambassador, and during the trial was subjected, at most, to a nominal confinement, -as Mr. Drinkwater, in his Life of Galileo, and Mr. Whewell admit,- for four days, in a splendid apartment in the palace of the Fiscal of the Inquisition. Such are the main facts in the case, as simply and as briefly as we can narrate them.*
The whole treatment of Galileo, so far as Rome was cerned, appears to have been singularly lenient and respectful. All that was ever asked of him was, that he should be content to teach his doctrine as an hypothesis, not as a doctrine demonstrated, and confine himself to mathematical arguments and proofs of it, without meddling with the Scriptural bearings of the doctrine. Had he been content to pursue a straightforward course as a scientific man, no complaint would ever have been entertained against him, and no official action would ever have been taken. His troubles all arose from his rashness; from his insisting that authority should sanction, as demonstrated, what was as yet only a probable hypothesis ; for we must remember, that, in 1616, the heliocentric theory was very far
Our limits do not allow us to cite at length our authorities, but our readers will find them in a remarkable article in the eighth number of the Dublin Review, which has been republished separately in this country, in a pamphlet, entitled, “Galileo; the Roman Inquisition; a Defence of the Catholic Church from having persecuted Galileo for his Philosophical Opinions. From the Dublin Review, with an Introduction by an American Catholic.” Cincinnati: Catholic Book Society, 1844, 8vo. pp. 68. VOL. II. NO. I.