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#348557 05/27/10 12:40 PM
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dear Knowledgeable Forumites:

Copernicus was in the news fairly recently (better gravestone or something like that).

Was he ordained? And as what?

Thanks for your insight!

Herbigny #348564 05/27/10 04:46 PM
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Herb,

It was more than a "better gravestone," he literally had been buried in an anonymous grave. With the help of DNA his remains have been positively identified and solemnly re-buried as a national hero of Poland.

Several articles have been written on this event, here's a link for one of them: Catholic Church Lets Copernicus Out of Hell!!!!! [ncregister.com]


Peace,
Deacon Richard

Epiphanius #348569 05/27/10 06:17 PM
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dear Fr Deacon:

thank you for the link.

so he was a priest, I guess?

(and a Canon of the Cathedral!?)

re my "gravestone" reference, I just thought I had read somewhere that there was some sort of plaque in the Cathedral indicating his burial somewhere (not precisely marked) in the Cathedral. (ah yes, here: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=653)

thanks

ps: his being a priest (a significant factor in the context of the "controversy" to me anyways) never seems to get much highlighting.

Herbigny #348571 05/27/10 07:09 PM
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I believe that it is unclear as to whether or not he was actually ordained. I've heard that he may have only had minor orders, which would have been sufficient for him to be on the cathedral chapter.

John K #348575 05/27/10 09:12 PM
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dear John:

for me Minor Orders are still Ordination - so good enough for me.

but according to the article posted by Father Deacon, the writer says Copernicus was a priest!

was he incorrect?

Herbigny #348576 05/27/10 09:22 PM
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Copernicus was a Church canon, which in the Western Church means a priest who lives like a monk. His uncle, a bishop, procured the office for him over the objections of the cathedral chapter. Ah, nepotism--where would the Church be without it?

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StuartK #348577 05/27/10 09:27 PM
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thanks Stuart!

What was the objection?
I presume it had nothing to do with his (then thought) odd theories about a heliocentric universe?

ps: I presume there's no way he could have just held a "benefice" of a canon but not really be a priest (if that make any sense)?

Herbigny #348578 05/27/10 09:53 PM
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Probably that Copernicus (who was barely out of his teens at the time) was not qualified (except insofar as his uncle was the bishop, which is, of course, the best possible qualification). By the 16th century, the Church was busy suppressing all sorts of benefices, but that doesn't mean the abuse did not continue in many places. On the other hand, to hold a benefice, one had to be ordained to the order needed to hold it--but one did not perform any duties.

StuartK #348698 05/30/10 08:22 PM
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May 24 is the anniversary of Copernicus's departure; hence the discovery and marking of his grave being newsworthy at this time.

From the Mission St. Clare calendar [missionstclare.com] web site:

Nicola(u)s Copernicus (Mikolaj Kopernik) was born in Poland in 1673. His parents died when he was twelve, and he was entrusted to his uncle (soon to be the Bishop of Ermland), who sent him to the University of Cracow (astronomy) and then to Bologna (Greek, mathematics, Plato) and Padua (law and medicine) and Ferrara (Doctor of Canon Law). Having been elected a canon of Frauenberg Cathedral, he returned home, assisted his uncle until the uncle's death, and then opened a free clinic for the poor.

His interests were many and varied, including theology, poetry, and the natural and social sciences. He is the first known formulator of what we now call Gresham's Law ("Bad money drives out good" -- that is, if there are two kinds of coins in circulation that have the same legal or face value, but one is more valuable in terms of its content (say a silver dime and a cupro-nickel "sandwich" dime), consumers will tend to hoard the more valuable coins and spend the less valuable ones, so that soon only the less valuable ones will be in circulation).

He is chiefly remembered, however, for his work as an astronomer. In his day, the common view of the world was the geocentric model -- the theory that the earth was a motionless sphere and that the heavenly bodies all revolved around it. There was a minority view: Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, for example (Papal legate to Germany, who by careful measurements showed that a growing plant did not derive its increased mass principally from the soil, but rather from the air, and who died a century before Galileo was born) wrote: "When we say that the earth does not move, we mean simply that the earth is the point with reference to which man makes his observations of celestial phenomena." But, by and large, the stability of the earth, backed by what was thought to be good scientific evidence, was the view that prevailed. (It is often said that medieval Christians thought that the earth was flat, but that is pure hoax. Dante, writing in the early 1300's, refers to the earth as a sphere, and so does Thomas Aquinas in the opening section of the Summa Theologica, and so does Bede in the early 700's, and so does Irenaeus in the late 100's. The issue was not shape but motion.)

The geocentric model had been interwoven with other theories in chemistry, physics, music, natural theology, and other disciplines, into one unified theory of nature, so that it seemed that rejecting any single part (such as the stability of the earth) imperilled the whole theory. However, as the astronomers of the day measured the motions of the heavenly bodies with increasing accuracy, and the theory was patched up to fit the measurements, it became an increasingly awkward theory. Copernicus proposed to simplify it by supposing that the sun, not the earth, was at the center. He first produced a summary of his theory in 1530 in a paper called the Commentariolus, which received papal approval. He then spent the next thirteen years revising it, expanding it to book length, rechecking his calculations, rewriting his arguments, postponing publication until he was sure that he had not overlooked something. (Some writers today will know the feeling.) Finally, he entrusted it to an old pupil, Georg Rhaeticus, a professor at Leipzig, who published it there, with a preface added by the Lutheran pastor Osiander stating that the heliocentric model was only a device to simplify computations. The printed book, called De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium (The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies), was brought to Copernicus only a few hours before his death 24 May 1543.

His work roused little opposition at first, but when Galileo quarreled with the University establishment in Italy and finally with the Pope, the whole geocentric model fell under suspicion and Copernicus's book was placed on the Index "donec corrigetur" ("until it be corrected") from 1616 to 1758.

written by James Kiefer

FWIW, Nicholas Copernicus and Leonhard Euler, a German mathematician, are jointly Commemorated on the Lutheran calendar on May 24.

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A pretty objective synopsis. In particular, note that the controversy was not so much between the Church and Galileo (and by extension, Copernicus), but between Galileo and the academic establishment, which, then as now, was more interested in protecting its own reputation than arriving at the truth.

StuartK #348701 05/30/10 08:55 PM
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Speaking of truth - I didn't verify this claim but I heard that Copernicus' theory is, taken as a whole, false, and it was one of the reasons why "De revolutionibus" was put on the index. The problem was that planets revolve around the Sun on elipsoidal, not circular orbits, as Copernicus thought. In effect, this error rendered this theory useless, if not dangerous, for practical astronomical purposes (like navigation).

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PeterPeter #348703 05/31/10 12:52 AM
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At the time that De revolutionibus was placed on the index, Keppler had not yet worked out his law--that solar bodies sweep equal areas in equal times, proving that they moved in elliptical orbits.

The Church had no real problem with heliocentric theories, and even used them itself to calculate the date of Easter. The problem began when Gallileo began metaphysical conclusions from his physical observations. The issue is much the same as that revolving around evolutionary theory today.

StuartK #348705 05/31/10 01:44 AM
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What were the metaphysical conclusions that Galileo proposed?

StuartK #348719 05/31/10 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
At the time that De revolutionibus was placed on the index, Keppler had not yet worked out his law--that solar bodies sweep equal areas in equal times, proving that they moved in elliptical orbits.

Certainly, but the astronomical data collected in empirical observations would have been different than produced by Copernicus' theory, even if nobody would have known why.

PeterPeter #348722 05/31/10 11:12 AM
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Quote
What were the metaphysical conclusions that Galileo proposed?

Galileo posited that scientific truth superseded biblical truth; i.e., that when science and scripture were in apparent opposition, precedence should be given to science. This is probably the first expression of an epistemology known as scientific materialism. Had Galileo not moved beyond his empirical observations, he would not have crossed the Church. Robert Bellarmine told him as much, but Galileo insisted. As it was, he got off very lightly.

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