National Catholic Reporter Calls For Ordination Of Women

The NCR tries on a new outfit for size.
The NCR, the Catholic equivalent of the New York Times, ended their teasing yesterday and came right out and said it. “Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church.”

In a fit of fiery indignation, words they once minced became direct and pointed: they threw down their Sak’s Fifth Avenue, fur-lined gauntlet and let Rome have it: “Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.” Boy! Not allowed to stand!

It’s a very curious thing, but many non-Catholics are intensely interested in the debate over women’s ordination, with a great many watchers desiring earnestly the “patriarchy” which “rules” the Church to cozy up to modernity and change. Change for the sake of change. Change because it galls them to see any organization operate in a manner at variance with their perceived optimal politics.

There is also a significant slice (though still a minority) of self-acknowledged Catholics who would like this change, too. These people’s opinions count more than outsiders’, so it is of some interest to examine the sort of arguments which appear convincing to them.

First a reminder that the Church is a voluntary organization, complete with “hierarchy” (a hateful word to many), its rules on fundamental topics plain, well known, and long digested. Nobody seeks priesthood or religious status in ignorance of dogma. So it is a wonder that many join intending to ignore certain doctrine or to usurp authority. This is like a conservative joining the Democrat party and refusing to vote in favor of arbitrary tax increases and wanton spending.

NCR’s editorial was written in response to the laicization of one Roy Bourgeois a then priest who went through a faux ordination ceremony with a woman (this was not his only offense). The Church’s inevitable action incensed the perpetually offended editors, who launched into a history of the faith’s attitude on female priests. It was here they thought they had discovered an “Aha!” moment, finding the Church was not always as keen as now at “denying” women ordination.

What is true is that the Church was not always vocal on the opposition to female priests, and that nowadays it is. The NCR interprets this to mean that in more Enlightened times, lady ministers were acceptable and accepted. This is a false inference. What is true is that in times past there were scarcely any agitating for female ordination: it wasn’t a problem; few popes took action because there was no need. But when the clamor reached its current fevered pitch, Venerable Pope John Paul II was forced to pen the Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which he said, “Sorry, ladies.”

The Ordinatio and its sequelae upset many digestions. Opposition opinion settled on variants of “How dare the Church violate the dictates of our consciences,” a variant on the Protestant heresy. Now let’s be upset over this word, which after all has a technical meaning. Nobody is suggesting thumbscrews and hot oil. It is one of the dogma of the Church that individual conscience is not pertinent to central questions. Don’t like that, don’t sign up.

The NCR made other mistakes, which are perhaps more convincing to the disgruntled. These are encapsulated in the paper’s paraphrase of Bourgeois: “He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God’s ability to call one of God’s own children forward places absurd limits on God’s power.”

Even if you accept, per impossible, female ordination, it is absurd to claim “no one” can say who can be a priest. This is anarchy, the opposite of the goal of the Church as an institution, which is organization. (The goal of goals of the Church is to introduce its members to St Peter.)

The absurd “anatomy is somehow a barrier” is easily dismissed. Anatomy is often a barrier and no amount of good will or right thinking can change this. No woman can write her name in the snow in cursive at oblique angles, and no men can bear children. To introduce various body parts as euphemisms for sex and to call the Church’s teaching “unjust” is not to create new evidence. It is only unjust if women should be ordained, and that is the question already answered.

The “absurd limits on God’s power” is a non sequitur. The Church has claimed a male-only priesthood is God’s will, that it is acting in accordance with His will. It is impossible for any man to limit Omnipotence.

It is interesting that the paper chose this moment to state its disobedience. Big changes coming?


  1. “No woman can write her name in the snow in cursive at oblique angles, and no men can bear children.”


    Very well argued.

  2. R. Sherman

    Yes, indeed. Should the Roman Catholic Church embrace modern customs and mores, then in but a few short years it won’t be “Roman” any more, but Anglican. One doesn’t have to read much to see how that’s worked out.

    BTW, there are plenty of people who disagree with the Roman Church’s doctrines and practice. They’re called, “protestants.”


  3. Ken

    Ah….Christianity…so many incompatible doctrines each & every one purporting they’ve got it figured right–and all from one single founder!

    Changing the rules of one institution honing to one of those particular doctrines — and about a matter separate & distinct from one of those doctrines no less…mere tradition purported to be from _____ some source or other…

    Consider that Institution– it is the very same organization that put Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) on lifelong house arrest for the heretical teaching that the Earth orbited the Sun (along with the other planets).

    The Roman Catholic Church, caretaker of faith, protector of the true doctrine, then sat back & waited…and watched…as Russians & Americans launched satellites & people into orbit around an Earth orbiting the Sun…after a good dozen or so humans orbited Earth in keeping with the laws of nature, and then as the USA graduated its space program from Mercury to Gemini, sometime in 1965, then did the Catholic Church revoke its condemnation of Galileo.

    But it did so in a curious way — still blaming Galileo for meddling in matters of theology and thus still never conceding it (the R. Cath. Church) was wrong. As if Galileo’s presentation of scientific facts was, and somehow remains, an affront to a particular false theology. In other words, the R. Cath. Church’s interpretation of sacred, divinely inspired and infallible scripture is still upheld as infallible.

    Even though it ain’t.

    So, for such an august institution such as it really is, why not put the matter of ordained women to a vote…or just pull options written on scraps of paper out of a hat. After all, its clear they’ve fabricated at least some of the holy truths constituting matters of doctrine, like Earth is the center of the universe.

    The problem isn’t that “…that many join intending to ignore certain doctrine or to usurp authority…” the problem is that the hierarchy of that organization is clearly there to further self-serving, and often factually false, beliefs. The real wonder is that so many people recognize this and yet still join up.

  4. Gary

    (The goal of goals of the Church is to introduce its members to St Peter.)

    Which is a primary error. The only goal of any church should be to introduce members and everyone else for that matter to Jesus Christ. It’s leadership should be authentic Christians (not the cartoon versions of media myth or the perverted lunatics of cults) with this foremost in mind. Ordination should be a formality at most for people who have demonstrated (“by their fruits you will know them”) an authentic call to ministry. All this fussing about gender is a deception of the Opposition (you know who I mean).

  5. Ken

    About R. Cath Church Offical views re Galileo: While some pronouncement in 1965 indicated the Church exonerated Galileo the formal apology didn’t come untile 1992 from Pope John Paul.

    Not that highly influential officials didn’t see things differently…like the current pope:

    “On February 15, 1990, in a speech delivered at La Sapienza University in Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, cited some current views on the Galileo affair & quoted Paul Feyerabend:

    “”The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune.”

    GET THAT???? In 1990 the future & now current pope is saying the Church was right, Galileo was wrong, and exonerating him can only be justified as a politically opportune act.

    So much for facts carrying the day under that set of values….

    In January 2008, as Pope Benedict XVI, Ratzinger canceled a visit to La Sapienza University, the same one he had visited in 1990 and made the above bizarre pronouncement, following a protest letter signed by 67 of its 4,500 academics, as well as a few dozen of its 135,000 students.

    When about 1.5 percent of a school’s faculty, and a tiny fraction of a percent of its student body is willing to present informed counterarguments….just goes to show how robust the R. Cath. Church’s doctrine is against informed discussion.

    Some things only stay sensible when ignorance is coddled.

  6. George Boggs

    During my 30+ years of atheism, I often wondered why disaffected Catholics didn’t simply leave and join another denomination. As a Catholic convert (5 yrs @ Easter), I’m still wondering.

    Speaking as a semi-retired scientist still engaged in adjunct teaching (graduate level math), the beauty of Catholic teaching astonishes me.

    By the way, who is that in the image? Michael Jackson?

  7. Bill Raynor

    What is the difference between “laicization” and plain old defrocking, which can be voluntary or involuntary?

  8. George Boggs

    The ancient controversy about Galileo is still a source of misinformation and misdirection, all these centuries later.

    Galileo was not sanctioned for his heliocentric theory. Nor was Copernicus, who first described heliocentrism, or Kepler, whose heliocentric work also predated Galileo’s. The “settled science” of the day, Aristotelian natural philosophy, posited geocentrism and had many eminent scientific adherents like Tycho Brahe.

    The Pope, and later Cardinal Bellarmine, demanded that Galileo present his theory as such, and not as established fact. Which it was not, at the time. Galileo could not account for the lack of observable parallax shifts (due to inadequate instrumentation) that Aristotle predicted, and Galileo’s theory of the tides was, well… ridiculous.

    Galileo’s real problem was pride. No only did he refuse to acknowledge the very real limitations of his own model, he went on to publicly and deeply insult the Pope by referring to him as a simpleton. I guarantee that any scientist who depends on NSF dollars and publicly refers to President Obama as President Lackwit in a highly publicized spat is going to find him- or herself at the effective end of a career. Galileo was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, but he was a very stupid man who was crippled by an abrasive, arrogant personality and a deep need for money to keep his deadbeat relatives out of debtor’s prison.

  9. Andrew Brew


    The church never claimed that the the sun revolved about the earth, but that that was what the empirical evidence available at the time suggested. Interpretation of scripture would therefore continue to be done by the established authorities in that field, in accordance with the settled (settled by the authorities in that field) science of the time, and refuse to be stampeded by some maths wonk with a bee in his bonnet about a discredited astronomical theory being the key to biblical exegesis.

    You do know, don’t you, that Copernicus’ theory was seriously flawed, and known to be so by the seventeenth century? There were better theories around, but Galileo didn’t take account of those. What he was accused of was not teaching Heliocentrism, but of breaking an agreement not to make the false claim that Copernicus’ theory was provably true (‘cos, actually, it wasn’t).

    In short, the church was quite right. Galileo was doing bad science, although he did turn out to be (almost accidentally) right in some of his central claims, as well as quite properly right in others against which no objection was raised. When this was demonstrated by evidence, rather than by displays of Internet outrage, the objections to his teachings were withdrawn. This happened not in the 1960s but in the 1830s.

  10. JH

    It is only unjust if women should be ordained, and that is the question already answered.

    It’s been answered!? Really, what are the legitimate answers? It’s unjust because women don’t perform some bodily function standing up, or because women have the privilege of carrying a child, or because we should hold on to the traditions of men for the sake of tradition? Perhaps, God only answer/speak to men? Are women incapable of preaching and conducting a mass? Or perhaps, people still believe that women on the moon-time are unclean?

  11. Briggs


    You can help us here, I think. Why is the question of women’s ordination interesting to you, a non-Catholic? Were my surmises above correct or is there another reason?

  12. JH

    Ken is not a Catholic, is he? Do I have to be a Catholic to be interested in the question of women’s ordination? What kind of qualifications do I need to have to be interested in such topic?

    No, I am not a Catholic, but I’ve got a Catholic-educated family! I can’t say for sure, but I probably have attended more masses than you have!

    What surmises are you talking about?

    Still, why is only unjust if women should be ordained?

  13. Sander van der Wal

    The Catholic Church is criticizing non-members too. Why the surprise then that non-members are criticizing the Catholic Church? Tit-for-tat, pot-kettle-black, beams-eyes and whatnot.

  14. George Boggs


    By “criticizing”, do you mean that the Catholic Church takes a clear stand on the Church’s view of good and evil?

    If so, if I take a public stand on the free market, does that mean I am “criticizing” socialists?

  15. Briggs


    No answer, eh?

    But I’ll answer your questions by pointing to the Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which is linked above, and which answers your queries.


    Same question to you.


    I see your difficulty. I nowhere said JH (or anybody) could not be interested. I merely wondered at her reasons, as they are not immediately obvious (and apparently too private to reveal).

  16. Ray

    Re Galileo
    If I recall history correctly, the pope was forced to take action by priests accusing Galileo of heresy and demanding that the pope do something about this heretic. The pope certainly wasn’t going to protect Galileo after being called, by implication, a simpleton. When the priests quieted down, the pope told Galileo to keep quiet and sent him back home.

  17. Briggs


    And let’s don’t forget it wasn’t priests who refused to look through G’s telescope, but fellow academics who were satisfied by the Ptolemaic “C”onsensus.

  18. Katie

    Many people, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, confuse their “thoughts and opinions” or their “heart’s desire” for their “conscience.”

  19. Andrew Brew

    It wasn’t anybody who refused to look through the telescope, although Cremonini, Galileo’s fellow professor at Padua, claimed it made his head hurt to do so and that he couldn’t se a darn thing anyway. Probably true, given the quality of lenses available and C.’s advanced age.

  20. george kaplan

    I think the pre -Roman Jesusites ( I might be politically incorrect to call it THe Jesus Movement) were a little more easygoing about who distributed the bread. I’m not too clear about Consecration. While agreeing with you in principle I see no reason not to make the giving of the sacraments an equal opportunity position.

  21. JH

    Mr. Briggs,

    No answer to what question? Why am I interested in the topic? What’s wrong with my answer of being interested in the religion of my children and in-laws?

    Why should I (but not other readers) have to answer this question to start with? If you don’t wish me to make comments on this blog, all you have to do is to say so, which can be easily done!

    So it’s unjust basically because of the interpretation of Jesus’s behavior or the Church’s traditional teaching given by the powerful administrators, imo. Ordination of women might be against the tradition of men, but definitely not UNJUST! UNJUST?! If a person who didn’t follow Church’s teaching could become a pope, I image powerful administrators of the Catholic Church could find reasons to make it so if they wish to ordain women priests.

    Well, Pope Benedict XVI’s new book comes to mind.

  22. Doug M

    I am not a Catholic, so perhaps someone here can tell me if I have the philosophy correct. Catholics believe that “how we pray shapes what we believe.” When someone joins the Catholic church they must accept the traditions of the organization that they are joining. That is, the Catholic Church has been here a lot longer than you have, and will be here after you are gone. They have their way of doing things, and if you don’t like it, you are welcome to pray with the Epicopalians.

  23. dearieme

    And yet when a Pope finally allows ordination of women, he will be infallibly right. It’s a miracle!

  24. Joey H

    Which is a primary error. The only goal of any church should be to introduce members and everyone else for that matter to Jesus Christ.

    This is a euphemism to, “get to heaven,” presumably, because St. Peter resides there.

  25. Ye Olde Statistician

    The geostationary theory was the best scientific explanation of the available data at the time. Even after the invention of the telescope, the stars still appeared as disks. (These Airy disks are actually due to aberration, but at the time were thought to be real physical images.) Stellar distances were inferred from their apparent brightness and their apparent diameters. Brighter and larger meant closer. Since Procyon and Saturn appeared to be about the same diameter and brightness, it was not likely that Procyon could be much more than 100x the distance of Saturn and in that case parallax would have been visible to the naked eye. No such parallax could be seen. This falsified the heliocentric theory.
    The Church’s difficulty was that, geostationary physics having been the settled science since Ancient Greece, the Church Fathers had all read the scriptures in the light of the science. And while the Church could and did abandon interpretations that were no longer tenable in the light of certain knowledge, she did not do so in the light of implausible hypotheses.
    The Jesuits were teaching Copernicanism quite properly: as a mathematical hypothesis that seemed to be useful. Very few in those days thought of astronomy as a physical science. The job title was “mathematicus.” It was not necessary that any of the mathematical devices used to calculate celestial events be physically real; only that they work. However, Tycho Brahe’s system gave the same answers as Copernicus’. (The two are mathematically equivalent, differing only in the origin of the coordinate system.)
    That is why Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog,” said that “the Church had the better case.” She was supporting the settled, consensus science and demanding empirical evidence to the contrary before officially re-interpreting the Scriptural passages differently from the Patristic age.
    After reading a copy of Galileo’s letter to Castelli, Dominican Niccolo Lorini denounced Galileo and his followers to the Holy Office (7 February 1615) for “taking upon themselves to expound the Holy Scriptures according to their private lights.” Copernicanism was cited as only as the topic on which he had done so. (And Lorini misspelled the name.) The charge was dismissed, and later was kept off the table, since that really would have been heresy.
    Empirical evidence proving geomobile theories became available only ca. 1800, with Giovanni Guglielmini’s experiments with dropping balls at the tower of Bologna and Giuseppi Calandrelli’s publication of parallax in a-Lyrae. (in 1728, James Bradley detected stellar aberration in γ-Draconis, which established that the earth was moving; but the effect was small, variable, and detectable only with special instruments. Bradley’s paper was translated into Italian after 1734, and Copernicanism was removed from the Index in 1758.)
    For a capsule summary of the long goodbye of Claude Ptolemy, see “The Great Ptolemaic Smack-Down and Down and Dirty Mud Wrassle” in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of ANALOG Science Fiction/Science Fact.
    + + +

    The priest is in loco Jesu Christi. Jesus, as man, was male. End of story. Why do late moderns insist that women must always act as men in order to be considered worthy? Or is it only that in a crypto-socialist milieu all relationships are seen as power relationships, and therefore the question of the priesthood is perceived as a question of power?

  26. Sander van der Wal

    George Boggs,

    Yes. As far as you are concerned, the socialists are mistaken because of some reason. Thas is a critique. The socialists think you are mistaken for a different reason, and that is a critique as well. And with both socialists and free marketists telling people what to do, both parties are a proper target for critique.

    The Catholic Church is telling people what to do too. In a free society this makes them a target for critique. Because some other parties disagree with them.

  27. Sander van der Wal

    George Boggs,

    The Catholic Church has an opinion on what behavior is Good and what is Evil. People with different beliefs about Good and Evil will criticize that opinion. Why wouldn’t they not do that? They see the Catholic Church acting Evil, after all, and being responsible citizens, they tell the Church.

    And with the Catholic Church being an organization of mostly responsible citizens, the Catholic Church does exactly the same.

  28. Rich

    I think it started with Jesus of Nazareth. so much of what he said begins, “It is written” and this pattern is repeated over and over through history. The longer the hierarchy exists the more it gives in to pressure from ‘the wider community’. Then some firebrand turns up quoting the Book and accusing the hierarchs of apostasy. If he doesn’t get his way he starts another religion using the authority of the Book. Given time his new religion will also apostatsise and the cycle will repeat. The tension between the authority of the Book and the authority of the hierarchy is never resolved – nor can it be – and the cycle repeats endlessly.
    AS a system for spiritual salvation it seems to lack something.

  29. andom

    the cancellation of the visit of the Pope to La Sapienza University was a sad page in recent Italian history. The visit was annulled not because the Pope was against ‘informed discussion’ but because there were occupations of university buildings and threats of violent protests;Italian public authorities (the Ministry of the Interior) reccommended the postponement of the visit for reasons of public safety.

  30. Tom

    >>Why do late moderns insist that women must always act as men in order to be considered worthy?

    What does it mean to act as men? You are quite off mark here. Serving God needs a kind and noble heart.

  31. George Boggs


    I see you have shifted from the word “criticize” to the word “critique”. In English, those two words, despite similar spellings, have different connotations.

    “Criticize” has a negative connotation. E.g., “to censure or find fault with” is the first definition.

    “Critique”, on the other hand, has an academic connotation: “detailed evaluation; review.” as first definition.

    Given your latest comments, I see we actually agree.

  32. Tom

    Nuns cost less!

  33. Gary

    JoeyH, you miss my point. The goal should not be attaining heaven; it should be knowing God. Heaven follows as a blessing, rather than an earned reward. A subtle distinction, perhaps, but crucial New Testament theology.

  34. Ken

    @ George Boggs & @ Andrew Brew, above…

    Those are all valid & thoughtful arguments…but the inescapable fact remains that Copernicus & Galileo were basically correct–entirely correct on the fact that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The Church did not confront Copernicus for his theory of heliocentrism for the simple fact he died very soon, same year, he published it.

    But the Church did intervene on a scientific viewpoint and acted harshly to suppress it. Such a tactic would be intolerable today as science by its very nature leads to theories and conclusions that are often flawed–and then amended by more objective science.

    Not the intervention of a religious doctrine force-fed until it was shown to be absolutely false, which was the Catholic Church’s postion. At which point they’d then conced a different interpretation of scripture was needed–on this some quoted Thomas Aquinas:

    “First, the truth of Scripture must be held inviolable. Secondly, when there are different ways of explaining a Scriptural text, no particular explanation should be held so rigidly that, if convincing arguments show it to be false, anyone dare to insist that it still is the definitive sense of the text. Otherwise unbelievers will scorn Sacred Scripture, and the way to faith will be closed to them.”

    The issue for the Church, then, was it simply did not want to accept it would have to revise its teachings on this point.

    Today, a similar thing is happening with many people believing a simplistic literal interpretation, ignoring overlapping findings in biology, geology, and astronomy to conclude the Earth is only 6000/10,000 years old or so, etc.

  35. Ken

    Briggs, re: “Same question to you” … do you mean as the question, “Why is the question of women’s ordination interesting to you, …? Were my surmises above correct or is there another reason?”?

    HERE’s A RESPONSE TO THAT: The early history of Christianity, especially that which survived the document purges of the formative Catholic Church, has many indicators that women were held in high esteem and did lead services held in homes (which were the first churches). There’s also evidence that many of the biblical clauses pointing to a submissive & subservient role of women were inventions added on much later/interpolations added by scribes copying an author’s work, etc. Bart Ehrman has addressed some of this in his popular mainstream books, and more so in his more academically-oriented work.

    Female Ordination in the Catholic Church is just one more example, of very many, of how people selectively blur Christian traditions with Biblical teachings…whereever & however they want to get the answer they want. Or, to change one value/doctrinal position for another. In some cases, formal references must be ignored, destroyed, or creatively interpreted.

    One good example of that is the requirements for baptism. Many protestant churches will assert, very strongly, that to be proper baptism a person must be submerged completely. Adherents of such protestant faiths will typically reject various R. Catholic teaching, including baptism & much more (e.g. the derived conclusion that there must be a Purgatory), on the basis that it is not specifically “in the Bible.” Thing is, there’s nothing about the details of baptismal dunking requirements in the Bible either.

    Relatively recently, an ancient text believed to have been possibly originally drafted by one of the original apostles, almost certainly older than any of the Gospels, was discovered, the Didache (also called, “The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles,” what was a sort of introductory summary pamphlet for new converts to the then new Christian faith, summarizing all the basic themes–readily available on-line–AND ACCEPTED BY BOTH THE R. CATH. CHURCH & ORTHODOX CHURCH; Jonathan A. Zdziarski has a translation with an informative & brief explanation & summary). That document showed that the R. Catholic approach to baptism, a mild pouring of water over one’s forehead in a church setting, is consistent with the oldest known references.

    So, the protestant requirements for baptism asserted to require complete immersion in a church tub are wrong and have zero basis from any Biblical or other authority–despite what they assert with knee-jerk consistency. And for the same contrived/false reasons the R. Cath. Church’s assertion that women have a subservient place can be shown to be equally contrived…one just needs to do a lot of digging in dustys academic arenas/venues to find this.

    Early on, the Cath. Church did a better job of covering its tracks by selectively destroying evidence to the contrary of whatever doctrinal position happened to be in vogue at a given moment. They did a good job, but incomplete & leaving evidence to show that things really were different in the earliest days in some areas & in some fundamental ways.

    For example, even though they destroyed some documents, they preserved enough quotes in thier rebuttals from which one can recreate a pretty good picture of how things were and how things changed over time, and why.

    Other authors, like Origen, display a curious mix of intellectual rigor and ignorance–namely of fundamental principles & values taught be Jesus. Ditto for some of Paul’s philosophical & logical expositions — much of which would be unnecessary if they’d just quote Jesus (after all, if he was God why not just defer to that autority–should be good enough for anybody…right?). I.E., many early writings from accepted Church authorities don’t contain any references to basic Jesus teachings…which is suggestive those teachings & stories were invented later (this become especially interesting when one observes how some very fundamental themes were once accepted, then later rejected — sometimes the authors were considered great authorities only to be later exommunicated as heretics for the very same view). The history of the Church shows that some issues arose and ever-so-coincidentally just the right document & contents were “discovered” to resolve things in just the way needed. Bart Ehrman has discussed this at a level any layperson can understand, if superficially. There are other writers.

    The pattern observed is exactly what one would expect of a group of people making it up as they went along, and doing so somewhat uncreatively, copying various themes & philosophies from pre-existing pagan religions (this, by the way, was one of the very first criticisms of the new religion–its just a rehashed version of the same old things packaged to attract the illiterate & lowest classes who hardly know any better). Which is pretty much how all religions come along….

  36. Ken

    RE Galileo & the Pope: The June 22, 1633 Papal Condemnation reads, in part: “The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.”

    For the entire Papal Condemnation see:

    Galileo was attacked by the Church for presenting as scientific fact facts that contradicted the wrong interpretations & dogma of a religious view.

    For a record of the trial and more, see the legal reference, with links:

    For the records of trials of famous personalities back to Socrates, see:

  37. Ken

    Galileo’s recantation — consider if goverments today did things like the Catholic Church did back then, forcing such adoptions of offical truths (even if they’re false) and forcing those that actually think to become informants against others that think likewise….and today people are complaining about just being called a “denier,” as if that’s so bad, by comparison:

    “I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before you, Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity throughout the entire Christian commonwealth, having before my eyes and touching with my hands, the Holy Gospels, swear that I have always believed, do believe, and by God’s help will in the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. But whereas — after an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said false doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture — I wrote and printed a book in which I discuss this new doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favor, without presenting any solution of these, and for this reason I have been pronounced by the Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves:
    Therefore, desiring to remove from the minds of your Eminences, and of all faithful Christians, this vehement suspicion, justly conceived against me, with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error, heresy, and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church, and I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be. Further, I swear and promise to fulfill and observe in their integrity all penances that have been, or that shall be, imposed upon me by this Holy Office. And, in the event of my contravening, (which God forbid) any of these my promises and oaths, I submit myself to all the pains and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. So help me God, and these His Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hands.

    “I, the said Galileo Galilei, have abjured, sworn, promised, and bound myself as above; and in witness of the truth thereof I have with my own hand subscribed the present document of my abjuration, and recited it word for word at Rome, in the Convent of Minerva, this twenty-second day of June, 1633.

    “I, Galileo Galilei, have abjured as above with my own hand.”

  38. andom

    What Ken seems missing is that the Church’s position during Galileo affair was the scientific consensus of the time.
    Galilo was censured not by a government but by a tribunal; even recently in the United States courts have intervened to decide what is science and what is not basing the rule on what is the thinking of the majority of the scientific community.

    Anyway in the condemnation we read:
    “The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.”

    questions for a scientist living today:
    is the Sun the center of the world?
    the sun does not move from its place?

  39. rank sophist

    There used to be deaconesses in the Catholic church during ancient times, but it has become fashionable to rewrite this inconvenient historical fact.

  40. Andrew Brew


    Yes, Copernicus and Galileo (and others) were basically correct about Heliocentrism, and were never attacked by the church for that. Copernicus was never attacked at all, nor was there the slightest chance of his being so. If he delayed publication out of fear, it was of the Aristotelian scientific establishment, not of the theologians.

    Galileo was charged with teaching something that he had already agreed not to teach – not that the Sun is the centre of the Solar system, but that:
    1) He could prove it, and therefore
    2) by holding to the scientific consensus of the time the church was interpreting scripture wrongly and
    3) the Pope was an idiot
    Actually, only the first two of these were subject to the earlier promise – the third was a new bit, which nevertheless did not help his case.

    This teaching was indeed at the time “absurd in philosophy” (= “not provable by reason”) and “formally heretical” (= “contrary to the – non dogmatic – teaching of the church”)

    Neither of these is a big deal, so no punishment was imposed harsher than “house arrest”, which just means he had to gain permission if he wanted to travel. The only time he made such a request it was granted, and why not?

    The quote you offer from Aquinas is relevant, and the similar one from Robert Bellarmine in 1616 (of which you no doubt are aware) more so. The effect of both is that the church had no objection to changing non-dogmatic teaching (and no dogma was involved in this case), but they won’t do it just on a whim. They demand cogent evidence, which at the time was wanting

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