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Friday, January 30, 2009

Galileo Won't Get Vatican Statue Anytime Soon

Back in March, we told you about the Vatican's plans to erect a statue of Galileo in its gardens—both to mark the 400th anniversary of his telescope and to help fully rehabilitate his image. (After the Catholic Church charged the astronomer with heresy, he was forced to recant his scientific view of heliocentrism—the idea that the Earth revolved around the sun—during his 1633 trial.)
Now, it seems the plan for the statue is on hold, indefinitely. Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told The Times that the statue had "only been an idea," which is now "suspended"—though Galileo "deserves all our appreciation and gratitude."
Galileo, Ravasi said in a statement, can now be recognized "as a believer who, in the context of his time, sought to reconcile the results of his scientific researches with his Christian faith." And "the church wishes to honor the figure of Galileo—innovative genius and son of the church," with a number of initiatives this year.
But the statue is no longer one of them. According to Ravasi, the statue had been designed, and a mold had been made, but the Vatican asked the project's sponsor to divert the funds to projects in Nigeria and other places "to foster a better understanding of the relationship between science and religion." —Heather Wax


Anonymous said...

It is a sad irony that the Roman Catholic Church martyrs its heroes and her descendents erect monuments in their (the martyrs) honor.