Geocentrism Debunked (David Palm) : Sungenis and Pius VII: Turning the Evidence on its Head
Sungenis claims that the pope was being actively manipulated. And in support of this claim, he points to a passage in the Acta of the Holy Office regarding Frs. Olivieri and Grandi (theological consultant to the Holy Office) and their ruling against Fr. Anfossi’s decision:
On the one hand, the author of the March 28, 1820 Acta refers to Pius VII’s acknowledgement of the Holy Office’s allowance for Settele’s imprimatur; on the other hand he emphasizes what he sees as the “indolence and dullness of this same Pontiff.” That such a scurrilous statement about the pope would appear in the Acta is quite surprising, nevertheless, it does suggest that Olivieri and Grandi were strong-arming both the pope and the Holy Office against Anfossi and taking advantage of the pope’s kindness and ill health (GWW3, 9th ed., p. 373.)
Such a statement in the Acta would be surprising if it meant that the author of the statement thought that the pope himself was being “strong-armed” into something. But it would appear that Sungenis did not read this passage in its full context. When we do, a very different picture emerges. Far from being a slight of the pope, or of Frs. Olivieri and Grandi, what is actually asserted in the Acta is that Fr. Anfossi was being an obstructionist and was a man of bad judgment. If one actually reads the whole entry, it is Fr. Anfossi who is repeatedly excoriated and criticized.
He’s accused of causing “great scandal and disgrace of the Holy See [magno scandalo Santaeque Sedis dedecore]”. He’s described as being a “stiff-necked and deceptive man [hic durae cervicis homo falsissimique]” and “very tenacious in his false judgment [sui judicii in omnibus tenacissimus]”. And he’s said constantly [non cessabat] to resort to “nonsense” [nugiis] in support of his opposition to the Roman Congregations and to “sensible men” [tam Congregationes quam sensatos viros] (see N. Mayaud, La condamnation des livres coperniciens et sa révocation à la lumière de documents inédits des Congrégations de l’Index et de l’Inquisition, p. 240).
So, supposing Pius VII had wanted Heliocentrism to appear as Catholic doctrine, how come he didn’t define it so instead of basically either scolding or allowing a courtier to scold Anfossi ?
Perhaps, Pius VII knew if he tried to define Heliocentrism as truth, he would be opposing the judgement of the judges of Pope Urban VIII – and thereby he would be giving new incentives (perhaps he was doing so anyway as it was) to La Petite Église, a French group separated from him who considered he had incurred the excommunications of Pope Pius VI for not condemning Napoleon. For too easily lifting excommunications over Constitutional Clergy. And so on. Or perhaps he knew in the heart of hearts that Anfossi’s observation was correct. If he adhered to Heliocentrism he placed himself outside the Church – while those adhering to it believing he had fully authorised it would be obeying what they thought was the decision of a true pope, he would not have the excuse of obedience, since he was the Pope. And the Popes he had to obey were only those of the past – including Pope Urban VIII.
This means, that whether the censure on Heliocentric books was validly lifted or not, it is a moot question whether the censure on Heliocentric belief was lifted. And it is certain no censure on Geocentrism was imposed. I have been in conversations, orally and over web, with Catholics who seemed to think, very erroneously, that Heliocentrism and Evolution were some kind of new doctrines of the Magisterium on exegesis or on relation of faith to science.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Sts Lucius Bishop
with Absalon and Lorgius, Martyrs
of Caesarea in Cappadocia