Letter from Father Lorini to Cardinal Sgondrati (excerpt)

Feb. 7, 1615

           All our fathers of this devout convent of St. Mark are of the opinion that the letter contains many propositions which appear to be suspicious or presumptuous, as when it asserts that the language of Holy Scripture does not mean what it seems to mean; that in discussions about natural phenomena the last and lowest place ought to be given to the authority of the sacred text; that its commentators have very often erred in their interpretation; that the Holy Scriptures should not be mixed up with anything except matters of religion….Ever mindful of our vow to be the ‘black and white’ of the Holy Office…when I saw that they [the ‘Galileists’] expounded the Holy Scriptures according to their private lights and in a manner different from that of the common interpretation of the Fathers of the Church; that they strove to defend an opinion which appeared to be quite contrary to the sacred text; that they spoke in slighting terms of the ancient Fathers and of St. Thomas Aquinas; that they were treading underfoot the entire philosophy of Aristotle which has been of such service to Scholastic theology; and, in fine, that to show their cleverness they were airing and scattering broadcast in our steadfast Catholic city a thousand saucy and irreverent surmises; when, I say, I because aware of all this, I made up my mind to acquaint your Lordship with the state of affairs, that you in our holy zeal for the Faith may, in conjunction with your most illustrious colleagues, provide such remedies as will appear advisable….I, who hold that those who call themselves Galileists are orderly men and good Christians all, but a little overwise and conceited in their opinions, declare that I am actuated by nothing in this business but zeal for the sacred cause.

   Source: Arthur Koestler, Sleepwalkers (1959).
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