But first, the note from The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue:
OLBERMANN’S IGNORANCE IS APPALLING
On last night’s edition of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” the host claimed that Galileo was punished by the Catholic Church for “his belief that the earth orbited the sun and not the other way around.” He also said that “the Church acknowledged errors had been committed in assessing Galileo’s scientific beliefs. They did that in 1992.”
Commenting on this is Catholic League president Bill Donohue:
It is not for nothing that Olbermann’s new show is drawing such phenomenal advertisers like “Furniture Fix” and “Gyro Ball.” Indeed, whenever a show has to rely on junk products for revenue (the sure give-away is when they advertise that the buyer gets “two for the price of one”), it’s an ominous sign. More than ominous is the intellectual acuity of Olbermann.
The fact is that the belief that the earth revolves around the sun was first broached by Copernicus, in 1543, and that was many moons before Galileo was even born. Copernicus not only did not get into trouble with the Catholic Church—he was a priest. Moreover, when Galileo first floated Copernicus’ idea, he was bestowed with medals and gifts by Pope Urban VIII. What got him censured was his arrogance: Galileo argued that his hypothesis was a scientific fact, something which even the scientific community of his day scoffed at. It is instructive that Father Roger Boscovich didn’t get into hot water with the Church at the time, and yet he also explored Copernican ideas.
It is false to say that in 1992 the Catholic Church acknowledged errors in dealing with Galileo. That happened in 1741 when Pope Benedict XIV granted an imprimatur to the first edition of the completed works of Galileo. What happened in 1992 was the release of a Pontifical Academy report on the controversy.
If Olbermann were simply wrong, that would be one thing. But it was his snide delivery that was really offensive. Glad we taped his new show—we knew it wouldn’t be long before he threw a low-blow at the Catholic Church.
Contact the executive producer, David Sarosi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact our director of communications about Donohue’s remarks:
That said, I received a book a little while ago by Michael Coren called Why Catholics Are Right.
This book intends to provide the reader with answers and responses to some questions and controversies which we hear in the news and conversations. It is a work of “catechism” and apologetics. Catholics have to know the Faith and have to be able to explain the Faith. Catholics have to be able to respond to questions from others and even attacks from others. Some of those questions and attacks are really classsics, old chestnuts, saws, canards, clichés.
One of them, of course, concerns Galileo.
If you were in a conservation with someone challenging you about how backward the Church is about science, flinging Galileo in your face, what would you say? How would you explain Galileo?
Coren, a Canadian journalist, has provided a well-written, well-reasoned source for your preparation for these conversations… not to mention your own questions.
He doesn’t just talk about Galileo, of course, but that section is particularly useful. He actually explains – and this isn’t always done – that Galileo had the charm of a radial-arm saw, and therefore alienated all his patrons. But I digress.
Coren’s book a a good read for continuous reading. Alas, it suffers from a flaw: it doesn’t have an index. And the table of contents is too thin to provide a substitute. If you are looking, for example, for a response on contraception, you’ve got to page around.
Therefore, if you get it, from the first page use a pen. Write notes in the margins and make your own index in the back. That’s what I do with books that are supposed to be useful but suffer from this flaw (e.g., far too many books from Ignatius Press).