The Trial of Galileo
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Church Team #4
Discuss the Church's position on interpreting scripture with respect to astonomical observations and on who has the authority to interpret the Bible.

  • Review and explain the 1616 decision of the Council of Trent on Copernicanism. Consider especially the views of Cardinal Bellarmine, his authority to interpret Church doctrine, and his openness to Copernicanism and studies of nature.
  • Imagine yourself as Melchior Inchofer? Summarize and explain your [1633] report.
Familiarize yourself with the arguments of Team #3.
For more depth, also consider:
  • Tommaso Caccini's views and their relevance in 1614-1616
  • the implications of Galileo's materialistic interpretations for atomism and the doctrine of the Eucharist [consult with the Instructor]


  • Bellarmine's letter to Paolo Foscarini of 12 April 1615, in Finnochario's The Galileo Affair or Blackwell (1991), Appendix VIII. (Also online -- see Resources.)
  • Inchofer's report is Appendix 1 in Blackwell, Behind the Scenes at Galileo’s Trial. See also commentary in Chaps. 2-3. Also reprinted in Finnochiaro's The Galileo Affair
  • Blackwell's Behind the Scenes at Galileo’s Trial, Chap. 3

    For background, see:
  • on Bellarmine, Chap. 6 in McMullin's The Church and Galileo and Ch. 2 in Redondi's Galileo, Heretic
  • Fantoli's Galileo: For Copernicanism and the Church, Sects. 3.2-3.5
  • Santillana's The Crime of Galileo, Chap. 6.
  • Feldhay's Galileo and the Church
  • Pera's Chap. 10 in Machamer (1998)
  • Blackwell's Galileo, Bellarmine and the Bible, Chap. 2 and Appendix III.