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Pope admits church wronged Galileo 300 years ago (from Reuter in Pisa)

The Pope said yesterday that the church wronged Galileo when he was condemned by the Inquisition in 1633 for his views on the Solar System.

Addressing professors at the university in Pisa where the astronomer taught that the Sun and not the Earth was the centre of the known universe, the Pope referred to him as “the very great Galileo Galilei”.

The Inquisition condemned Galileo in 1633 for backing a theory of the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus because it clashed with Biblical verses such as: “God fixed the Earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever.”

The Pope has made the improvement of relations between the church and science a main goal of his office.

In 1979 he appointed a commission to review the Galileo case. An initial report in 1984 said the scientist had been wrongly condemned for asserting that the Earth revolved around the Sun and forced to sign a retraction.

Church officials say the Vatican will probably never formally lift the condemnation of Galileo, as it no longer has legal standing and because the Pope had symbolically reversed it.

—The Guardian